I’m almost three weeks post-treatment, and all has been quiet on the cancer front.

By: Robin Harry

I’m almost three weeks post-treatment, and all has been quiet on the cancer front. I haven’t had any surprise pains or symptoms so far, and the side-effects of the radiation have mostly gone away. All except for the radiation tan. I realized recently that it’s even worse on my back than it is on my chest – there’s just this big black square in the middle of my back. I wish I could take a picture of it, but I’m just not quite limber enough to take a photograph of my own back! Tomorrow I start an exercise program at the Wellspring to help me get back to being somewhat fit, and hopefully shed some of the pounds and inches that I’ve put on everywhere. Now if only there was a way for me to keep the inches in a few choice places…

I’m writing this post mostly because I’m trying to make sense of a series of happenings that I’ve come to call ‘the good intention phenomena’. The good intention phenomena – events and conversations arising out of forced contact that start with the phrase or some variation of, “I meant to.” Recently I’ve been hearing that a lot. Seriously, a lot. “I meant to call.” “I intended to visit.” “You’ve been in my thoughts.” “You’ve been in my prayers.” “I wanted to, but I didn’t want to bother you.”

I’m very grateful for all these words; I love them all dearly and I know everyone means the very best. And I know I should feel better that they’re thinking of me, right? Right. <sigh>

The truth is, it doesn’t make me feel better at all. It kinda stings sometimes. If anything, it might even be worse than no contact at all. I think it’s because the whys behind the non-execution of the intentions aren’t clearly understood, and the feeling left is that of being an afterthought – like a thought that passes but isn’t significant enough to act upon. Also, thoughts are great, but they don’t cut through the hours and hours of silence and solitary confinement. I needed the rest – definitely. Rest, however, isn’t the only thing I needed. <sigh> I really should have just gotten a cat…

Someone asked me once, “Well, why don’t you call them?” That’s a reasonable question – why self-impose a social quarantine on yourself when you can call the ones who don’t? It comes down to not knowing why. I can’t speak for everyone who has a chronic illness, but this is how I see it. It’s hard to tell why some folks disappear – I try not to assume malice. I know how heavy and how scary cancer is or can seem. Some folks can’t handle this load, some folks have burdens and troubles of their own. The last thing I’d ever want to do is bring my troubles to someone who honestly doesn’t want any part of it. One friend told me flat out that he/she couldn’t help me with this. That’s fine – it hurts, but at least I know. But that’s why I’m wary. Realistically – how would that phone call go anyway? Call and say “Hey? what’s up? We haven’t talked for a few months. Oh, me? I’m great – still have cancer, but you know, that’s life…”

I’m concerned that this whole post seems a bit egocentric, but I just needed to write my thoughts out. Maybe it will help someone understand what goes through the mind of a cancer patient sometimes. I guess the conclusion that I’m coming to is this; intentions are great, but actions are usually better. And it’s never too late to make those good intentions into actions.


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