Tuesday, January 12, 2010

there's a place

With the use of Facebook, I have come in touch with people from my distant past. Although there are some that I don't really want to renew contact with, I have observed a fact about my cancer diagnosis that I didn't really appreciate before now. Having known quite a few people, if you count all the 45 years that I've lived, reestablishing contact with those from 25+ years ago, has made me realize that I really am the unlucky one. Among all those I've known, I am mostly alone in having been given a cancer diagnose.

Why does this surprise me? Maybe it's because we are always hearing about how prevalent cancer is in our society. What about the 1 in 9 statistic? Certainly I have met a lot more than nine people in my life. Yet, I can't say that even 1% of them have acquired cancer.

I'm often in communication with other cancer patients, as a volunteer or even as patient myself. I suppose when I'm around others like me, I tend to think there are a lot of us out in the world. But now I'm seeing that is not true. We are 1 in 100, or 1 in 200, or 1 in 500 among our family and friends. I suppose this is good news for those who have not been afflicted. And it kind of explains why people clam up, or even change the subject when I start to tell them about my cancer journey. How uncomfortable they become.

Most the people I know seem to be pretty much the same as when they were younger. They have the same habits, and mostly the same interests. They didn't really change all that much, except that they look older. But when I think about all the changes I've been through in the last several years, I'm afraid others may not feel they are in contact with the person they used to know.

So I do what to know – why me? I know it may be a little late for this question, but I still want to know; of all these people – how did I become the one? Although my mother-in-law and cousin have been diagnosed too, my cancer was far more serious than either of them. They have been long over their treatment but I will never be done. I am forced to accept my life of continual monitoring, treatment and a limited lifespan. I know I am only a step away from this worldly life; I can feel it, and part of me actually welcomes it.

As a hospice volunteer, there is an unmistakable place where those who are dying drift towards. It's like an in-between state; sort of between here and "there". I have become very fond of the "there" place. To be able to walk up to the threshold, with my hospice patient holding my hand, is the greatest honor ever.


liz said...

Hi M.Fletcher,
My name is Liz and I have been checking your blog from time to time. It has been a long while since you posted so I hope you are doing really well and are out there living your life. In regards to the statistics of cancer prevalence, I had 6 people in my family diagnosed with cancer, I think that cancer really is as prevalent as we tend to think in society, the numbers currently are 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will be diagnosed.
That said, since your blog is a great resource for someone going through cancer I wanted to reach out to you to see if you were interested in a new online social support network (that I am the community manager of!) called I Had Cancer. It is a new and free social support network focused on connecting people based on experiences with cancer so that they can easily communicate with one another and share information. I would love to tell you more if you are interested, so please let me know! Because I was so struck by your writing I would love to send you an early-access pass with extra invites for others you may know going through this journey.

Either way, thank you so much for your writing. Take care and best regards.
-Liz@ihadcancer.com - if anyone is interested in info on I Had Cancer please email me.

DAVID HAAS said...

I have a question about your blog. Please email me!