Thursday, February 7, 2013

Uncomfortably Numb

The relationship between treatment and blogging has become somewhat predictable after six rounds. On Friday, I'm flying high and with the steroids overpowering the chemo, I'm eager to post, to write, to talk, to do something. Saturday, there's a balance and a veil of normalcy; I have energy but generally feel no need to post. And then comes the fog of Sunday and Monday. Cloudy. Jumbled. Unfocused. Words and letters form in my head, but it's as if they've been tossed in the air and fallen in a tangled pile of recognizable incoherence.  I don't know what to do with them. 

They sit there and occupy my mind in no productive manner, teasing at possible thoughts. I try to decipher their meaning but it really takes until Thursday -- until today -- before I can find a quiet space in my mind, before I can clear away the detritus, toss this mess of ideas into the air and reassemble them in some order. 

But that's not really what I wanted to write about. 

I want to talk about numbness.  

Inevitably, these days I'm surrounded by cancer. I work it and I live it. For the most part, I'm used to the daily encounters of creating cancer content -- I may have ran away from it at first, but I returned a year ago with a renewed purpose and voice. And to a great extent, I'm learning the new normal of life with cancer, even as I step into the uncharted waters of life post-treatment. 

No, what I'm sometimes overwhelmed with is the sheer routineness of yet another cancer anecdote. It seems like a day doesn't go by without learning of someone else I know who has been diagnosed. Somebody's uncle has pancreatic cancer. Someone's son was diagnosed with ALL. An old-friend's mother (or daughter) is being treated for breast cancer. Someone's husband has a brain tumor. 
A word cloud based on my blog feed,
courtesy of wordle.net 

I'm not trivializing the news -- far from it. But the volume of diagnosis among friends, family, acquaintances, friends of friends, or more far flung connections, is hard to process. Sometimes I think it'd be easier to list all the people I know who don't have cancer. 

On the one hand, I feel a certain kinship with these unknown strangers -- and  yet I also want to create a certain distance. To assert that their cancer is not my cancer.

At times I want to say: "enough is enough." There's no more room at the inn. This dreary little club has all the members it can take. 

--michael