Sunday, May 26, 2013

Anger Management

I had a very distinct and clear thought as I headed into Boston on Thursday morning. I didn't want to be surrounded by cancer. I didn't want to hear from other cancer patients or  survivors; I didn't want to read fellow cancer bloggers. I just wanted a cancer holiday. 

A day off.

The problem is: I was on my way to work at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Avoiding cancer was sort of impossible. So I did the next best thing. I meditated for a few extra minutes. And by meditating, of course, I mean running. 

After a good long run along the Charles River and back past the Boston Marathon memorial, I went to work where I read about cancer survivors, edited stories about platelet donors, and talked about our content plans (which, of course, is all cancer related). It was all fine. But for the past few days I've been wondering why I had that reaction.

I was tired, sure. But there was nothing to trigger it. I'm more than three months removed from the post-chemo steroidal roller coaster; I'm feeling better than I've felt in a while; running more than I have in three years. And, through this blog and elsewhere, I've largely come to accept the cancer part of my identity. Why Thursday did I suddenly want to twist, squirm and run from it? 

My blogger friend Tara talked in a recent post about anger, and it got me thinking, I've never really been angry about my diagnosis. Anxious, scared, annoyed, sad, frustrated, defiant, grateful to an extent. All those things. But angry? Well, not at the cancer. 

Could it be that for almost two years -  through watchful waiting, scans, treatment, and now post-treatment - my anger's been like a giant pot of water on low heat, warming but never reaching full boil? That occasionally a bubble will surface in the form of a disproportionate reaction to a kid's action,  an uneven response to an argument, a lack of tolerance to an inconsiderate act? 

Could my feeling on Thursday have been a bubble -- or a warning that a full boil is on its way?

I acknowledged in my last post that anger is darkness. To be honest, I wasn't sure why I wrote that. I felt it, but I wasn't sure where it came from. And it comes from here: the shadow of cancer can be full of anger and it can cast darkness over otherwise light times. And cumulatively, with each bit of anger that surfaces, it adds to the darkness and casts a pall over life.

Life should be full of light. Life with a healthy (yes, healthy) family, complete with two good kids should be overflowing with light. With so much light that it's hard to see. When I feel a bubble rising, that's what I need to remember.

When things are going well, the remembering is easy, but when adversity -- in all its shapes and sizes -- strikes, the remembering is hard. I wrote most of this post sitting on the floor in a dark corner of a hotel room that we were calling home for a Memorial Day weekend soccer tournament. Stacy and the boys were sleeping, or attempting to do so. 

It's been a fun weekend, but it's been full of sub-optimal sleeping arrangements, sub-sub-optimal weather conditions, and a few sub-optimal games as Matty's team is playing "up" against stiffer competition. Which is all to say that I've needed both a steady stream of coffee and frequent self-reminders that life is full of light. 

--Michael