People keep dying. Each time a brother or sister in mets dies I lose a friend, a confidante, a supporter. I lose someone who really, truly, absolutely gets it. Each time, I am confronted with my own prognosis. Each time I am both acutely grateful for the extended time I’ve lived with mets and acutely aware that I’m getting closer to the end of this run.
I am a believer, a religious person. I have confidence in what (Who) is waiting on the other side. But I am also a material person, not a spiritual being. I like being alive, and I want to keep living.
There has been a great deal of suffering in my life. I have known many kinds of pain, loss, humiliation. There have been enormous joys in my life. There is still joy in my life, and there is still pain and all the feelings in between. Feelings are the hallmark of being alive, even (especially?) when they are unpleasant.
Other people are getting sicker. Their disease is progressing, metastasis spreading. Some people have a very grave prognosis; others are floating with me in the limbo of uncertainty. Uncertainty as to time frame; the outcome is known.
My own cancer seems to be stable at the moment. I’m not having scans or exams done, so I don’t know for sure. Using the location and intensity of pain, though, things seem stable. Stable is good.
Doing the things I need to do takes more intention and energy now than it used to and I need more help than ever. On the other hand, I can still live alone, I am on a relatively low dose of narcotics, and I can still work a bit. I need to use a walker, but I can use it to dance, too.
So, yes: I am still fundamentally happy. At the same time, I feel like a rock under a waterfall: slowly but perceptibly over time, I am being worn away. My friends and companions around me are getting sicker and dying. Sometimes I feel like I can’t breathe. Not survivor’s guilt, not exactly, but my continued life with metastatic breast cancer sometimes feels like a heavy weight. The air around me is thick.
When I was first diagnosed, I sometimes wondered “why me? Why did I get sick?” Over a decade later, I sometimes wonder, “why me? Why am I still alive?”
Cindy Graeff died of breast cancer yesterday, the 28th of March 2014. At the suggestion of her family, anyone who would like to honor Cindy is invited to make a donation to Duck Team 6 Street Dog Rescue.