It has been a rough couple of weeks in the Chidester household. It began with the surprising news of multiple brain metastases. I think I definitely have been in a bit of denial after nearly six years of fairy consistent response to treatment. Quality of life certainly has had its ups and downs depending on the treatment, but overall I must say that I have led a pretty active and fulfilling life since my diagnosis of stage IV disease in 2005.
This particular course of treatment has its share of physical challenges, but I have been quite surprised with the emotional impact. It feels as if I have been transported right back to the beginning of this journey with those same old questions and feelings emerging. They are things I have not thought about for years like:
“What did I ever do to deserve this?”
“How did I get lung cancer anyway?”
Also disturbing to me is that I thought I was well trained to no long look and live in the future and to be very present in the moment. Now suddenly I find myself tearing up when I see older couples enjoying each others company, knowing I will not be able to be there with my husband. I waste countless amounts of time and energy wondering if I will get a chance to meet my new grand baby in November. My focus has suddenly turned to worrying about the future. What in the world happened to all that re-programing to be fully present in the moment and to accept change as a natural process of life?
I think the most surprising of all to me is the very strong desire to just totally shut down and lock everything and everyone out. It is like the pull of a powerful magnet. It is so hard to keep communication open; to give more than just yes/no responses, to be interested in anything except the comfort of my bed. Don’t get me wrong, I know that I am not in any immediate danger of dying physically, but obviously I have been impacted by this experience much more than I thought possible.
Thankfully, I have a wonderful family who have insisted that I resist the pull of that magnet of isolation and stay involved. My lovely daughter left her family to fend for themselves and spend some time taking care of me. My sister-in-law has split the duty with my daughter and resumed her prior role as “chef” to the picky cancer patient. My husband is a steady rock that keeps me upright. I think the take home here is that it is difficult to even realize when we need to ask for help. I am so glad that my family has the willingness and ability see the need for action. Although I think that maintaining involvement in life is a choice, there is a strong pull toward the path of least resistance and one person alone may not be strong enough to overcome that pull.