Monday, 5 January 2015



I ran into my girlfriend at work today.  When I talked to her yesterday she had mentioned that she was starting a new chemo drug today but I forgot, or rather, I got so busy that I forgot.  And when I went on my break, there she was, sitting near the front door.  Her husband had dropped her off early on his way to work. 

She's so tired.  Tired of appointments.  Tired of having cancer.  Tired of chemo.  Tired of making other people sad.  Tired of feeling tired.  She looks worn out.  The chemo isn't working.  I'm pretty sure this new chemo won't work.  Actually that's not true, I'm very sure the new chemo won't work.  I know the stats, I know her prognosis.  I asked her if she wanted to continue on with her chemo and she said she wasn't sure.  When I asked what her husband said, he said that it was up to her.  Her three girls want her to continue with the chemo.  Her girls are thirteen, fifteen and seventeen.  I don't know if they understand what they're asking of their mother.  Teenagers still believe in immortality. 

I told her to try it if she wants.  She can always change her mind and stop the chemo.  I know I wouldn't continue on with chemo.  I'm a chicken shit.  I hate suffering, physically or mentally.  Palliative chemo involves both mental and physical suffering.  My friend knows she is dying but still can't believe it I don't think.  I don't think I could either.  It's one thing to say, yes, we're all mortal and another to say, this is my last Christmas, my last winter, my last birthday. 

She also knows how much suffering she's causing all of those who love her.  We all know she's dying and we're all grieving.  A part of me would just want to get it over with.  Another part of me would want to hold on to every last day, every last smile, every last hug.  I'm guessing that's how she feels as well.  The worst part would be knowing that the only thing that will ease the suffering of those who love her, is her own death.  We will weep, we will remember her and life will go on, our grief slowing becoming a part of the fabric of our lives.  How do you reconcile all of these contradictory feelings and emotions?  And what do I say to her? 

5 comments:

  1. deb, this is so sad. i could cry just reading your words about it. i feel so badly for your friend and you've explained it all so well. i think, as you know, all you can do is be present, be a witness, help with the little and not so little things. i feel for her kids. for me, i guess what i would hope, what i would want, is to come to terms to what is and be able to share the grief and remaining time with the people i love most. putting effort into hoping for a miracle, i fear, does a disservice to what remains.

    but easy for me to say.

    your friend must be so glad to have you there.

    love
    kj

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  2. I'm so sorry, Deb. I think you just abide with her, and be a witness. As far as your own coping -- you do what you're doing. Acknowledging and being mindful of all the complex emotions and feelings. Take care of yourself. Meditate. Love.

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  3. That's the worst part of any illness, knowing the toll it takes on everyone around you. And I've been through chemo and honestly do not believe that I could endure it again. But, then I see one of my old co-workers who has been fighting cancer for 7 years and just barely winning again and again and am amazed at her sheer grit. It's a very individual thing. Some of us can suffer through it and hope to see light at the end of the tunnel and some of us more pragmatic ones just put our hands up and say "enough."

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  4. That's an impossibly difficult situation. I think I'd forgo the chemo at that point but who really knows until they are there. And of course, her girls just desperately want to hold onto hope that they'll keep their mom. It's heart-breaking. I'm so sorry for you and her and her family.

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  5. That's an impossibly difficult situation. I think I'd forgo the chemo at that point but who really knows until they are there. And of course, her girls just desperately want to hold onto hope that they'll keep their mom. It's heart-breaking. I'm so sorry for you and her and her family.

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