Sunday, December 30, 2012


How do you tell the difference between good luck and bad luck?  Sometimes I feel extremely unlucky, and other times I feel lucky.  Obviously, getting cancer is a stroke of extreme bad luck.  However, I got a treatable cancer (so they tell me; I try to believe them).  It was found before it had metastasized, so that is pretty lucky.  It is not pancreatic, or lung, or ovarian, or liver, or kidney, etc. etc., all harder to treat than the breast cancer I have.  I acquired my cancer after the HER2 marker was discovered and also a targeted therapy for it.  That is pretty lucky.  I would have been out of luck on that score a dozen years ago.  I have been pretty lucky with relatively (it's all relative) mild side effects, and I haven't had to delay any treatments due to complications.  My husband and children are healthy.  Believe me, I am filled with gratitude for this simple fact.

And yet...  I still feel pretty unlucky.  Like when I went out to dinner with girlfriends, observing all of their excellent and intact hair, listening to the chat about normal things in people's normal lives, trying to participate when nothing feels normal.  Then again, I just love my girlfriends, and there I was, out for Thai food, so it's also lucky, right?  I realize over and over that people have done what I am doing and much worse, with aplomb and good attitudes, and I do try to maintain a good attitude much of the time, but having crossed over into this world of cancer, it is not easy.

Many will point out that viewing oneself as either lucky or unlucky is a choice.  For some, depending
on temperament, one or the other would be the default mode.  I am reluctant to admit, but will, that unlucky is probably the default mode, and I have to make a conscious shift to feeling lucky, which is why I constantly list out the reasons for my good luck with this whole thing.  Not to use my Jewishness as an excuse, but the Jews have not been the luckiest group, and I am pretty sure that fear and uncertainty, and worry, have come down through my completely unadulterated, un-mixed Russian Jewish line.  My nature is admittedly not a glass-half-full one, a lemonade-from-lemons

temperament.  I wish it was, but I know myself and I am what I am.  So I need to force the issue of what might be the good luck in my situation (see above list of lucky points, of which there are many).

Strange, the chemo is done, and I should be relieved, and thrilled, and excited to start feeling better.  I am all those things, but there is simultaneously the scary fact of no more poison.  Whatever the poisons have accomplished on my behalf is done.  I know for others and myself, who have gone through chemo treatments, there is definitely a desire/dread relationship with the poisons.  I could not wait for each three weeks to come and go, so I could have another dose, while knowing how badly I'd feel as a result.

It is amazing how tired a person can be.  I have been too tired to reach over for my glass of ginger ale and drink it.  I have been too tired while standing in the shower to turn it off and get out.  Luckily, that part lasts only three or four days.  And I will continue to look for the good luck wherever I can see it.

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