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The past few months have been discouraging. Thanks to pain, nausea, and fatigue—the first two are worse now than during chemo; the third is almost as bad—I’ve done a lousy job of teaching this semester. I’ve managed to do a little writing along the way, but only a little: much less than an ordinary semester’s work product.  Bad teaching and not much writing are not what I was hired to do. Frustration and guilt are constant companions. 

I wonder sometimes what it feels like to deal with cancer and chronic pain without a job. On the one hand, it would be a great gift not to feel that omnipresent guilt about badly taught classes and unproductive months. On the other hand, were work absent, pain and disease would fill my mind; nothing would be left to elbow them aside. I can think of few worse hells than that.
Which makes me wonder at this fact: the large majority of chemo patients I’ve seen at Yawkey (the Boston cancer center where I go) are well past retirement age. What must it be like to live with this disease and—just as bad—to live with the treatments without a job to occupy one’s mind? I shudder at the question. It sounds strange, but I’m thankful that this disease has caught me while I’m still working. The next thought is less odd: As badly as I do my job these days, I’m more thankful for it than I have words to express.


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Comments ( 1 )

The way I found your blog was through another cancer patient, Dan Cummings, a pastor from Michigan. We were given the web address of his blog b/c my husband is fighting stage IV renal cell cancer. He has already lived past his projected life span and for that, we are very grateful.

I found this post from you quite interesting b/c our experience has been just the opposite. I wonder, if it isn't God's way of lessening the burden just a little.

There have been more than a few times when both of us have said we are SO grateful that Dan (my husband's name also) is retired! We can't imagine trying to schedule all the doctor's appts. and scans and radiation treatments and blood tests around a work schedule. And that is presuming they all happen when they are supposed to. Ha! A couple of times things were so messed up it took all day (or the next day) to get it straightened out. HOW would someone working manage? We felt we were relieved from a huge extra weight by not having to worry about work obligations on top of trying to fight this monster disease.

We were so fortunate for my husband to be able to retire at a young age. He worked for Proctor and Gamble for 32 years and tetired at 54. His cancer arrived at 59 but it wasn't until a few months after his 60th birthday that we found out that surgery had not captured it all and that it had spread throughout his body. We knew that medically speaking, that was a death sentence.

Tonight we celebrated his 61st birthday....two days early, but with our son, whose 35th birthday is tomorrow. It was a bittersweet time. Each landmark event is these days.

We understand the pain and the nausea and the fatigue. We wish there were some way to help. I'm so glad that your job is helpful. We need to cling to whatever helps.

May God be with you in ways you have never experienced before. May you sense His presence and feel HIs peace in the inner most parts of your soul and may you find JOY, inexplainable JOY in Him even in the midst of the pain and suffering and sadness. Jo