Cancer. Why Me?

Every time I get back here and write a blog I get all enthusiastic about writing again. Invariably, over the last few years, that enthusiasm wanes as dull everyday chores take the place of writing. Then I get myself into the situation I face today. What shall I write after the haitus? Do I write what I planned to write about next? Or do I update on what has happened since I last wrote? Or do I just write about a new topic altogether?

Today I’ve elected for the latter two in the hope that I can achieve the first question posed above before I have to go through the process again. (Because I really did want to share about a wonderful opportunity our family had before I started treatment.)

The update. I feel like there is nothing too much to say. Maybe it’s because I answer this question so regularly, or maybe because my new routine feels quite dull and a bit blergh. I’ve now completed my third treatment of chemo. My new normal is receiving a Cisplatin/Etoposide + Keytruda infusions every three weeks. It takes three days to receive this cocktail. I seldom say “Cheers” and would never recommend placing an order for this particular cocktail concoction. There is a new wine bar in my town and it looks far more fun! (Especially the cocktail with fairy floss as a garnish. Stuff dreams are made of. I’m not drinking at the moment because I don’t think my kidneys can handle anything else, but if I was…)

The effects from chemo are that I’m stuck in a three week cycle according to the way my body is responding to the drugs. The first five days are the worst. I feel quite nauseous and sick, but thankfully I haven’t vomited. I have a yuck sick taste in my mouth, especially in that first week. I was warned my mouth might taste metallic due to the platinum in the drug, I don’t feel like it tastes metallic, what does metallic taste like after all? Maybe I’d know if it were truly metallic, for now I think it’s just a gross taste in my mouth that makes some food and water less appealing than usual to eat/drink. I also feel quite wiped out and get very little done.

During chemo. (My hair was thinning at this point. Now it’s mostly fallen out except for a fine layer that isn’t enough to hide my scalp!)

During the second week I feel tired, but I can function better, so long I don’t overdo things too much. The third week I’m feeling much better, so I try to get as much done as possible while trying not to think and dread the next week when I’m going to repeat the cycle and feel low all over again. I’ve been praying for little or no side effects. There have definitely been side effects, but I think it could be far worse, so I’m thankful for that and continue to pray and hope and believe that the treatment will work. I know some people want to know if it’s working when they ask me questions along that line, but you just never know what’s happening until there is a scan so you just hang on tight and stay on the ride. Even after a scan, it only takes a few weeks, and you are back to that feeling of unknown. I’m grateful for my faith that I have peace while I sit in the dark.

Many people, when finding themselves in unsavoury scenarios ask the question, “Why Me?” I think it’s very understandable why people ask that question, they just want to get out of a bad situation.

“Why me?” isn’t a question I’ve asked. Another cancer patient had remarked to me once during a conversation, “And then you go through the whole question of why is this happening to me.” I realised that this hadn’t been a part of my experience. I had no judgement that she raised the question, but for me the question instantly was, “Why not me?” Bad things happen in the world all the time. Wars happen, children die of terminal illness, sickness happens, abuse happens. The world is full of injustice. Why would I be excused from any of this suffering more than the next person? I don’t want this to happen to me. But I don’t want any injustice to happen to anyone. I find asking “Why Me?” is an unanswerable question that offers no solace because it is not a question that can alleviate your suffering in any way.

On a similar vein is the statement, “It’s not fair.” No, it’s not fair that I have cancer. But it’s also not fair that there are refugees in my city who are trying to re-establish their lives after experiencing atrocities in their war torn countries of origin and the indignities of living in refugee camps. It’s not fair that in my city when I go to bed at night there are children who won’t sleep as they cower in corners afraid of their parents. It’s not fair that when I go to my local cemetery there are child sized graves or headstones of people who have died far too early. I could keep going on, but I think you get the picture. It’s not fair. This is our reality, not just in my city, in every city across the world.

This doesn’t mean that all is hopeless. Quite the contrary! For every tragic story there is an opportunity to insert positive experiences. If you aren’t currently facing your own hardships there’s an even greater opportunity that you can insert yourself into another person’s story and be the positive. In fact, sometimes those of us in the middle of hard times get opportunities where we can be the positive part of someone else’s story. The beauty of looking for these opportunities is that when we start giving it makes our own lives feel so much more worthwhile. Sometimes the most cheerful moments that snap us out of feeling anxious or depressed is when we give ourselves the opportunity to do something for others rather than focus on ourselves. What a privilege to be a part of someone else’s story. We become the “but” when they tell their stories. “I was in this dark place, BUT someone came and did this for me.”

Thank you to the people who have helped me during this time. You know who you are. It’s quite overwhelming sometimes and I don’t always have the opportunity to thank people to the extent that I feel thankfulness for their actions. I have had people give me thoughtful gifts, money raised for meal vouchers and even a holiday, cards, a package left on the doorstep, vouchers, gifts, books and most of all so many kind words, encouragement and prayers. My heart feels so grateful for the prayers that are prayed for my family and I. I am so humbled. For all the “Why me” and “It’s not fair” questions that are asked, I find far more comfort in the prayers of those who believe and my faith in my God. Of course I could go into more depth (and hopefully will some day) on the theology and why I still serve a God and believe that he is good despite the evil and suffering in the world. But for now I just wanted you to know that in the middle of the knowledge that there are sad things happening all over the world, I have a peace that there is a God doing miracles everywhere and comforting the broken hearted. It helps my heart stay happy, a deep rooted joy that there is more good than evil in the world, and a sure feeling in my spirit that good will triumph.

I had a birthday recently. Here I am with my sister having a beautiful brunch with a few dear family and friends.

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  1. I love that so many years ago, you started a blog called ‘Caitlin’s Happy Heart’ and now… I’m the midst of what you are going through – your heart – is still happy. I love you dear friend and love that you are sharing your story.

  2. Despite all the challenges you are facing – you, my dear cousin, always remind me of what good there is in the world. Love your guts, and am looking forward to seeing you soon!

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