14 April 2010

Fuel Up!

The capacity for hope is the most significant fact of life. It provides human beings with a sense of destination and the energy to get started. - Norman Cousins


Hope comes in many forms and is found in many places. To some, hope can be found in churches; amongst encouraging loved ones; in seeing the sun rise after a long hard night; in hearing the laughter of children at play; seeing a marathon runner cross the finish line; in a song; or in hearing the testimony of a survivor. Hope can be found most anywhere at any given time -- there for the taking. It is an optimist's bright guide and a pragmatist's best companiion.

I am more pragmatic than optimistic. And while it's true that one needs to be at least a little optimistic when fighting something like cancer, I think that, in my case, it's more important to be pragmatic. See, I'm not wired to be optimistic even though faith and hope are the foundation of my existence. Even though I don't look at the world through rose-colored glasses or sing "the sun will come out tomorrow," I do believe that everything happens for a reason -- good or bad. Nothing is in vain. It all goes towards the "big pot of purpose" Although many times, I don't know what the reason is, I have absolute faith that there is always a reason. This keeps me sane and grounded. Life moves, albeit sometimes in mysterious ways. If you don't move with it, you'll get left behind, perhaps stagnate and eventually atrophy. Hope is the the fuel that enables movement, especially when moving is the hardest. And when you're saddled with a heavy load like having to fight cancer, you need to get to your nearest hope fueling station and fill up!

My hope fueling station is nestled in the second floor of a mid-sized office building in the middle of the city. Hope was dispensed from a large room at the end of a long and cold hallway, flanked on either side by offices. The door opened to a rather gray and sterile reception area, always full of people either waiting for their turn to go beyond the reception area for their turn or waiting for someone else who is inside. Once seen, one of the two receptionists quickly greeted me cordially and bade me sit until my name was called. I always sat in the the chair right nearest to the large bowl of hard candy that seemed always to be full -- lots of peppermint and fruit variety, a very cheery addition to the room. This was the waiting room at my oncologist's chemotherapy clinic, where I went for treatment once every three weeks. Yes. This was where I fueled up on hope!

Different people have differing opinions about chemotherapy. In reality, it is poison that kills fast growing cells in your body. So, yes. It does harm to your body. And a lot of cancer patients and survivors resent that -- as well they should. The immediate side effects alone are enough to banish this treatment to hell and back. BUT, it IS a necessary evil, isn't it?

Perhaps I'm crazy to say this, but I deemed Carbolplatin and Taxol as healing infusions. I absolutely looked forward to chemo every three weeks because I believed that with every IV infusion, more cancer cells were being killed by the chemotherapy. So, what if my liver suffered, or my hair fell out, or I was fatigued, or I was bleeding incessantly after treatment? I sat in those chemo chairs always with anticipation and with a smile. "Give me chemo, please!" was the look on my face. I never thought those IV's were poison at all. I thought of them as medicine that will make me better. Chemotherapy gave me hope -- enough hope to weather the nausea, fevers, headaches and everything else in between. And no matter if it was poison for other cells in my body, I didn't dwell on that. I was just always glad to have the infusion. It's the pragmatist in me.

Whatever I needed to get rid of those cancer cells was all well and GOOD -- not poison! "Dwell on the good it is doing, rather than the damage it is wreaking," I told myself. Because the little energy I had was better spent on "accentuating the positive" as the old song said. And because of that, chemo served as hope rather than poison. I believe that attitude helped immensely in my bout with cancer. Hope comes in all shapes and sizes. Mine just happened to be in the form of Carbo-Taxol chemotherapy.

So, here's to hope, where ever and however you may find it! Hang on to it and reach for the sky!


We'd never know how high we are till we are called to rise; and then, if we are true to plan, our statures touch the sky. ~ Emily Dickinson

1 comment:

Karen said...

This is a very encouraging way to look at the bright side of chemo treatments. And your perspective on it is wonderful! Wish I had read this post when I was going through the chemo, more than 4 year ago. This one would have helped me get through it. Most definitely.

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