Do any of you follow Leroy Sievers's “My Cancer” blog on the NPR website? Unlike many of the other personal cancer blogs that I follow daily, I check in on this one every two to three weeks because I don't want his posts to influence my own.
But a recent post, Even with Cancer Life Marches On, really struck a chord with me. After having the kind of stressful “bad day” that often infiltrates our daily lives, with or without cancer, Leroy mused that cancer patients should get a pass from non-cancer-related stresses.
After all, with the worries associated with the Big C, who needs to stress out over non-working dishwashers, over-flowing toilets or under-performing gardeners? Why shouldn't cancer patients receive a "get out of stress card," the perfect companion to the “cancer card” that grants special privileges? (Speaking of the cancer card, a few weeks ago my car mechanic said he'd need my car for a week. I shamelessly pulled off my wig, revealing my glistening scalp, and I had the car back the next day. But that’s another story.)
My non-cancer stresses have been relatively minor: The "will she or won't she" graduate episode. The laptop that went belly up just a few months after the warranty expired. The WiFi that suddenly stopped functioning. The new gardeners who need constant supervision.
Truth be told, it's good to have minor annoyances to take my mind off the other nagging worries that I seldom discuss: The dismal median survival rate of MCL patients with blastic variety. The underlying worry about how long I'll stay in remission. Then there are the frustrations that I've covered extensively in Cancer Banter: My blood's unwillingness to quickly bounce back after chemo. My ongoing struggle to harvest stem cells. My total inability to answer the basic question, "So, when are you going in for your stem cell transplant?" I think about these things, but I don't lose much sleep over them.
But what happens when the little stresses are replaced by a big one? In my case, I lost two pounds in West Virginia instead of packing on the usual three extra pounds of flesh. I went on to lose another three pounds in three days after I returned. My sleep is erratic. I wake up with a grumbling stomach.
The cause of the stress is not the Big C. Let's just call it the Little C (Cindy). I won't share the details here, but would be happy to spill the beans if I see you in person or talk with you on the phone.