Impermanence

incense

Yesterday I had a ct scan. Its part of my routine surveillance, or what I like to call “checking under my hood”. I get blood drawn every three months when I see my oncologist, and the scan is done every six months. The results should be back Friday. I was visiting patients on Monday and one of them I see regularly, asked me if I ever feel afraid the cancer will come back; I had told her I was having the scan this week.

And the answer is — yes, but I don’t dwell on it. As you know I consider myself a student of Buddhist philosophy (I know, many believe it’s a religion. I choose to see it more as a philosophy) and one of its concepts deals with impermanence. All beings and I mean all, will someday no longer exist in its present form… that even goes for buildings, civilizations…well, you get the picture.

So I choose to focus on the here and now…well, at least I am working on that. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow isn’t here yet, so all I can do is live in the moment. Before I got sick, I used to live a lot in the past, and think about what I should have done, and when I wasn’t doing that, I played the “what if” game. If we think about it too much, it can make us crazy and we really miss out on some pretty great stuff.

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So, yes I briefly think about my mortality but I think it helps me appreciate the time I have right now and stop or at least try to stop thinking about bullshit, petty drama…the kind we all can get caught up in if we don’t watch out. It can literally eat us alive.

I am a pretty positive person anyway and I definitely am at the hospital when I am around patients. Actually its rare that I run into a patient who is not positive, but if they want to talk about their illness and express sadness or anger, I always listen. I think that’s about the only thing I can do. I think  patients sometimes just needs a safe place to express his/her feelings without judgment. Sometimes family members want to sweep feelings under the rug, because they have their own shit to deal with, so they try to make sure the patient is always feeling up beat and sometimes that isn’t possible.

I know how it feels to be the one fighting cancer, but I don’t know what its like to be a supportive family member to someone going through treatment. I do know it’s an emotional time for all involved.

The way I look at it — I am doing everything I can to stay cancer free. I changed my diet, my lifestyle, and I pay attention to my body when it talks to me. I can’t do anything more than that. Outside of that, I live my life as normal as I can and appreciate each day. Gratitude will take you a long way. I used to keep a journal when I was going through treatment and sometimes I wrote, I was grateful for not pooping my pants! Believe me, rectal cancer can do a number on the plumbing. Now I am grateful for having a colostomy bag and not having to worry about any more accidents.

What are you grateful for?

Peace and Clean Undies,

Inge

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