January 5th, 2009: I spent the holidays feeling increasingly normal. For the first time in over two years, I started to walk with no internal discomfort. I still can’t run with ease, but I can move pretty fast, and sometimes if the bus goes by before I get to it, well, that’s just what happens. I’ve started going back to the gym for light cardio and lots of stretching. If I want to go to a museum, a movie, or other event in the community, I go.
The biggest shift in my perspective is that I am starting to see around having cancer. I can imagine life after this pelvic tumor is gone. In fact, I am imagining this happening relatively soon, within a couple of months. For one thing, I can’t keep doing chemo forever. I’m heading into my third session on Wednesday, and depending on my scans, there may be a fourth chemo session, or maybe not. But I believe that four is the max number of sessions that I’ll have to endure.
The biggest gift that I’ve felt from this unexpected and harrowing health crisis has been that I’ve made major strides in asking for help. As a little boy, I learned not to ask for help, especially within my family. Then, as an adult, I learned how to give help to others. However, I continued to withhold asking for my own needs be addressed. It didn’t feel safe, and I was still unconsciously hostage to my earlier lessons which had been grounded in disappointment and fear. Having a serious cancer diagnosis blasted through my reticence. Layers of isolation that I didn’t know existed for me have been revealed and evaporated. On a practical level, I learned to ask for what I really wanted (visits, support for taking chemo) and what I didn’t want (unexpected food, unexpected visits). But more substantially on an emotional level, I learned that I could figure out what I needed and ask for it. Unlearning the damage from childhood has been my biggest achievement during this health crisis. All of you reading this are a part of the reason that I am more confident and trusting. You’ve delivered for me.