This afternoon I read that a fellow blogger, Laura Lynn, lost her battle with ovarian cancer. Even though I only knew Laura Lynn through the blog-o-sphere, I felt a connection to what she was experiencing having been the caregiver to a cancer patient. There are many people I have known who have either survived cancer, been a caregiver, or lost a loved one to cancer. Once you are introduce to the world of cancer as a caregiver, your life is never the same. Cancer will change who you are as a person as well as how you view life.
Hearing that Laura Lynn lost her battle caused a cluster of memories to flood my mind from the days I spent in the infusion clinic, waiting in recovery rooms, doctor offices, emergency rooms, and the many miles driven to seek the best care possible for my ex-wife. During the chemotherapy stage, I lost two good friends to cancer. A family I knew at my church lost their 14 year old daughter to ovarian cancer. My dad survived a rare form of blood cancer (approximately 2 cases per year in the U.S.) only to develop ALZ. Lisa lost her husband to cancer. Too many people on a journey with cancer in the past eight years.
One image that is burned into my memory is that of a mother and father who took turns sitting with their very sick daughter as she received a round of chemo. I could tell that she was not doing well. Her father looked completely helpless as he stood by his daughter. Men are suppose to be the protector of their wife and children, but when it comes to cancer, we are helpless to slay the beast.
When the five year mark came around for my ex-wife, I thought it would be a reason to celebrate. Most cancer patients who make it five years are considered to be in remission. Cancer is never cured. The only way a doctor can say a person is cured of cancer is when their patient dies of something other than cancer or its complications. Instead of celebrating the fact she was in remission, my ex-wife focused on her belief that “cancer is still in my body and is waiting to come back”. The truth be told, we all have cancerous cells in our bodies but our immune system is able to identify the cells and destroy them before they grow into a tumor. My ex-wife approached her remission with anger at cancer, focused on the complications all cancer patients experience, and the medical system that could not undo the damage cancer caused.
Anger can be like cancer, once it gets a foothold in one’s life it can take away your happiness. Most people are able to control their anger until they have a chance to let it out in a controlled manner. Some are better at this then other’s but eventually everyone needs to vent their anger. My ex-wife managed her anger with what is known in psychology as transference of anger. I became the safest person on which to vent her anger. There were many times when the anger would erupt in the middle of the night. I was usually rudely awakened to become the focus of the outburst. My life became a living hell that I could not see. I recall several people asking how long I would endure the emotional abuse. I had no real answer other than for better or worse.
When I hear stories of people who are battling cancer with a desire to live, like my fellow blogger Laura Lynn, but loosing the battle, I wish I could give them the experience of remission that my ex-wife takes for granted.
My condolences to Laura Lynn’s family.