I’m sure this is unexpected. It is unexpected for me.
There is the downside of cancer, as anyone would expect. The first thoughts are about mortality, then there’s surgery, medication, tests, contact with annoying and ham handed medical staff. There is grief over loss of the planned tomorrow.
There are some benefits. Some trivial, some much deeper. This list is not comprehensive. These are my thoughts, now. Looking at the positive is not silly, not unrealistic, not strangely and inappropriately optimistic. Seeing benefits from having cancer, does not trivialize the struggle. Instead, looking only at the negative, trivializes my experience and emotion.
First, I have a deeper understanding and appreciation of my relationships with others. Ning has been by my side throughout. I am so grateful. Ning is my family. Having cancer, I appreciate him more. I always have, but now it’s sweeter.
Relationships with my primary community surrogate family have also been sweeter. At work – my main activity and community – the few who I have told have let me continue to be myself. Not a poor guy with cancer. Limitations are respected, and when I’m worn out – even if I’m not getting a break – I get a little understanding. Before, that wasn’t the case.
Having cancer forces me to acknowledge the limitation of life. If work is too hard, I’ll quit. Because of that, I know I am there because I decide. Not because of someone else. This gives me strength. I appreciate that.
Having cancer forces me to remember, we only live in today. We might live for tomorrow – a tomorrow that may never come. We might live from yesterday. A time that is gone. But today, we only live in today. I have a greater appreciation for the “now”.
There are less philosophical benefits.
I think, every day, someone will comment on my weight loss. Having lost 35 pounds, it’s easily apparent. The compliments are frequent. Kind of funny. People ask, what’s my secret to weight loss. Inside I think about saying, “cancer”. My private, dark joke. It’s funny.
If I eat some ice cream or potato chips, I don’t feel guilty. I am still working on trying to maintain weight. An treat isn’t going to hurt me.
I’ve learned to appreciate new foods and flavors. Teas, cinnamon, clove, citrus peel oil, honeys, ginger. Ning, again, has been contributing to this exploration. It’s nice.
For similar reasons, I’m more aware of some awesome sights, sounds, smells, and flavors. Gurus of semi-buddhist psychospeak might call that “mindfulness”. I’m too analytical to call it that, but there it is.
Again, due to the weight loss, I’ve started sorting through old clothes. It’s fun. I had saved some clothes, several years ago, after gaining weight and they didn’t fit. Now, I look at an item, and remember “I liked that” and I get to wear it again. I enjoy that experience. It’s like reliving a good experience from the past. Going to my own estate sale, and buying from myself.
I’ve developed a greater appreciation for remote, internet friendships, too. Including a wonderful lady, who is also going through chemotherapy and radiation therapy. I feel closer to her.
I’m sure other positives will surface. These are my thoughts, today.