Category: Support

The Conundrum of Cancer: or, the D word no one talks about

I have cancer and I am depressed. Or maybe I should say, Depressed. I was doing okay with my diagnosis and recovery. Returning to work wasn’t ideal, but I was coping with the stress. And then I was told that not only was I anemic, but that my iron levels are low (half of the low end of the normal range). The thoughts that passed through my mind included, “FFS, not something else,” and “what if there is something wrong with my bone marrow—what if the cancer has spread there?”

I don’t know that anything is wrong with my bone marrow, but until March 1, I didn’t have cancer. I didn’t even consider it a possibility because my doctors didn’t mention it. Now it’s everywhere, even if it isn’t. And it’s depressing.

Granted, I didn’t start down this path suddenly after getting my test results. It began while I was home recovering: “What is the point of going through treatment? I’m going to make it through this, then in another year or two, it’ll be something else (this “something else” has been a consistent pattern since I moved to Sonoma County in 2000, but that’s a blog post for another time). Maybe I shouldn’t do the radiation and take my chances with the cancer. With any luck, maybe it will kill me and I can be done with life.” This thought started becoming more frequent, along with waking up every morning with a desire to stay in bed and cry all day. I didn’t, and I sought help, but that’s not the point.

What I’ve come to realize is that the world I live in, generally speaking, is concerned with the physical. When people ask me how I’m doing, what they are saying is, “how is your body after surgery,” and “how is the radiation treatment making your body feel.” My doctors never mentioned that cancer patients slip into depression and that I might want to pay attention to my emotions as I go through this process. Them and their staff don’t check in to see how I’m actually dealing with the experience of having cancer and being treated for it. Neither does anyone else. 

This isn’t a criticism or chastisement. People aren’t conditioned to ask about mental and emotional issues. It’s taboo and uncomfortable. No one wants to hear about the impact of depression for a wide variety of reasons. The only time there is open discussion about this subject is when a celebrity commits suicide. Beyond that, it’s quiet. Even as I type, I wonder if I should post this to my blog and share it, and I question my point and the relevancy of my words. However, I think that helping to create an awareness, and maybe a dialogue, is needed. I don’t know what the right phrasing is for someone to ask the question, but it still needs to be asked, sincerely and without judgement. Depression isn’t a weakness—it’s a symptom.

Addendum: This isn’t a cry for help, but more of an observation that depression does not get talked about in the context of cancer, or anything else.

The Conundrum of a Life Falling Apart; or, how virtual love and support made my life better

This isn’t something I would normally publish openly, but I thought that for my own growth and to express my gratitude on a slightly larger scale, I’d turn a Facebook group thanks into a blog post. Here is what I wrote this morning:

On 11-11-2012 I paid attention to my thoughts and feelings and joined the Soul Path Tribe. It was one of the best decisions I made in 2012, and going into the new Wheel of the Year. Where I was at: I had just said good-bye to my academic-self so I could fully embrace my writer/artist-self. And on November 28, I said yes to the Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy and chairing the Leadership in Sustainability awards; and no to a relationship that was no longer working.

In the past year I have gone from: Living off of only child support and food stamps to becoming employed. Being more or less evicted from my home of 7 years, then moving to a new place that’s more affordable and supportive of who I am becoming as a human being. Saying no to fundraising, and then successfully chairing an fundraising event–a first for me. Barely surviving to enjoying life and being able to have the wherewithal to enjoy life, give my commitments proper attention, and be part of the Leadership for a Sustainable Future program. Being at one of my all-time life lows to being at a state of security and confidence I haven’t seen in a long time. Puttering around with my spirituality to getting to fully embrace all of it, especially my witchy self. Sharing only parts of myself to showing all of who I am, especially my vulnerable side.

None of this would have been possible without this Tribe. I’m not sure I would have made it through the last year with my sense of self intact. The consistent love and support have definitely been some of the biggest blessings I have received in the last year, and possibly in my entire lifetime. Lyn, I am so grateful that you followed your guidance and were willing to stretch to start the Soul Path Tribe. And to all of you who were on last year’s journey with me, I can’t thank you enough. Thinking about how wonderful all of you are pretty much overwhelms me emotionally and brings me to tears. I love you all. Thank you so much for witnessing and being there for me. It’s been better than having the moon, the sun and the stars.
Follow the links for more information about Lyn Thurman and the Soul Path Tribe.