How are you feeling is a common question I get asked several times a day, and a few times there is a follow-up question that gets asked before I answer the first question, “bet you get tired of answering that question don’t you?”
Actually I don’t mind answering that question at all because the fact that someone asks shows they care!
But something you probably should know, and I don’t think I’m alone feeling this way, is that the answer you get may not always be totally truthful at all times. There are a few reasons why, and I’d like to share them:
There is a difference between sympathy, empathy, and pity…you may be able to tell the difference, but at times I can’t. Your sympathy and empathy for me in this journey may hit me as pity, and it has nothing to do with what you say or what you do, but it has EVERYTHING to do with the place I’M IN at that moment. I could have had issues at work, the drive thru at the bank, any number of things could have piled on leading up to that moment. So my defense mechanism is to say I’m doing alright in order to share more when I can, when I have had the opportunity to process everything on my plate. In the 2 1/2 years of this battle I have yet to encounter true pity, that is with the exception of what my own mind creates.
No one wants to be the root cause for someone else’s stress, worry, or anxiety. Let’s face it any negative situation that comes into your life…unemployment, illness, divorce, etc…has an affect on your friends and family. The people who care about you feel for you when you hurt. It’s like being in the middle of a pond and dropping a huge rock in the water…the ripples effect everything it their path. At the end of the day when it’s you alone with your thoughts you know someone else may be having a sleepless night because of you just adds to what you are already feeling.
No one wants to be center of attention all the time for reasons that are out of their control…there are times you just want to escape. That may be work, home, or some other distraction where cancer can be left at the curb. The time we share together is an escape and moments to be treasured, and a response of I’m doing ok can make sure that happens.
You also should know I want to hear about what is going on in your life both to celebrate what is good and to share the load when you experience sorrow. There is a tendency not to share life experience with someone perceived to be in crisis mode, but let me tell you distractions are GOOD! Celebrating what God is doing in your life is GREAT. The opportunity to pray for your needs, hopes, and dreams is AWESOME!
Many times someone will be in the middle of sharing some issue they are facing and stop and say, “listen to me going on about my trivial issues when you are dealing with so much.” I want to hear what you are dealing with and facing because it allows me to un-engage with my world for a few minutes to engage with you. That’s what relationships are all about, and it’s what some call doing life.
You also should know that the very fact you are walking with me throughout this journey means more than you’ll ever know! And I hope you understand this journey we both are sharing has its good days and its not so good days, but having you in my life makes ALL MY DAYS are so much richer for it!!
One thing I would like to share is that when I’m not feeling particularly well, it usually is because of something I call chemo fog, or in medical circles, chemotherapy brain. Picture being hungover and unable to focus, picture the nausea without the vomiting. It’s like trying to multi-task and not being able to accomplish even a single task. I think a scene from Rocky5 describes this best. Can you see how Rocky is trying to regain his focus in the midst of so much chaos?
Hopefully what I’ve shared may shed some light on what happens to someone when they find themselves facing a life changing event. It doesn’t have to be cancer; it can be divorce, the death of a loved one, unemployment, any number of things. But I do hope you keep asking, and I do hope that when the time is right, they will share what is going on in their world and, more importantly, what is going on in their heart!
One more thing, “Yo, cancer, I didn’t hear no bell!!
Round 6 of chemo starts for me on Tuesday and I’m ready!
trusting God period!
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