A dear friend of mine is living with Stage 4 cancer and I asked him to write a guest post about his life with cancer. Here is what he had to say. It is not all sunshine and roses I am afraid. I will get more of a bio from my friend later.
Cancer is isolating, it pushes it’s prey even with large families into isolation, as the effects of the disease and the treatment for the disease slowly kills more than the cancer or it’s host. Both work to destroy one’s sense of belonging because it removes us from normal social life.
Now add in being a only child with no family left and that isolation and pain becomes much more profound. Throw in poverty, like really poverty and things get worse fast. And how do I know these things?
Well I have stage 4 lung and bone cancer which is responding poorly to all treatments. So as anyone who wants to live will do, I and my medical team went aggressive, two infusions a week until my body can’t take it. Sounds like fun huh? I also lost my last family member 3 years ago, and that basically leaves me with zero family. Fighting and living with cancer is difficult enough, pain, days too sick to really care for yourself and to face this alone is soul crushing.
Friends help when they can, but they have their own lives, and troubles and I understand that fully. Helping a non family member deal with all the crap that comes with intensive cancer treatment is hard. It is emotionally exhausting to them. I have drastic mood swings, I already suffer from depression so I got that going on as well. Isolation has zero fucks to give, it is a rot or an invasive plant like kudzu, quickly taking over every aspect of your life. You feel guilty asking for help or sharing your experiences because frankly you do not want to drive your remaining non family support away.
Isolation is my reality brought on by the above with financial collapse thrown in for good measure. You cannot make plans either for health or money reasons and soon when you can’t hang with your friends you become less and less social, more and more isolated. The extreme psycho/social effects of the isolation from cancer and it’s treatments are profound and devastating, leaving one questioning everything and if the treatment is worth it, if life is worth it and if I come out the other side, how emotionally damaged will one be?
If you are on the other side of the isolation and emotional pain cocktail please attempt to be understanding. So many people never get as much as a ribbon. The infusion rooms are full of people like me who go every week alone and leave alone returning to their homes alone. We would all like to think every Cancer Patient is surrounded by ribbons and people. This is not true and the image of every cancer patient being emotionally supported through run and walk teams and other stuff just makes people not feel worse about cancer. It is an image we carry to keep our own pain away. But the reality is those isolated and suffering cannot gloss this over as we live in it every day.