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Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Antihero's Guide to Cancer - Redux

Hero (n) - a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities

I've been considering what I wrote earlier, and I think it bears some clarification.

The main point I was trying to make was that often times I don't feel very heroic. I don't have the best attitude and fight in me. I didn't choose this fight. It's exhausting always putting on that brave face; because there are no breaks, no cease-fires, or vacations from it. At this point, with Multiple Myeloma there just isn't any threshold you cross such that you believe it isn't coming back. You bring it with you; at least I do.

What I am not (and wasn't) saying is that patients like me shouldn't be viewed as not having shown courage and noble (heroic) qualities. We have. Let me be clear (but not overly dramatic): anyone carrying the cancer diagnosis has borne a dreadful, unasked-for burden. It happens that it's difficult to paint a picture of for someone on the outside. It does indeed require heroic effort at times to cope.

This malady has pushed me well beyond anything I've ever had to deal with; pushed me way out into unfamiliar, and unsteady ground. I have much support from friends and family, but at times I feel utterly alone; but I think that is unavoidable. I suppose when faced with this dilemma one could pack it in and call it quits; otherwise throw in the towel. This isn't in my nature, however. I can't tell you on a scale of 1 to 10 where my rank is as far as coping, though. I've drawn on past experiences, some weirdly similar, to get through. I lean on my fellow patients.

For every ailment under the sun
There is a remedy, or there is none;
If there be one, try to find it;
If there be none, never mind it

My other point was: as a patient my options felt limited. You do what it takes to live and go forward; I really had little choice. I have a wife, three kids, parents, siblings, in-laws, friends. It takes courage, but it's a different courage than someone taking unrequired action like running into a fire to save a child or taking action on a battlefield to save someone else. Those require choice. Courage isn't the lack of fear, it's the decision to act in spite of it.

So in the end, this is why I would recognize the efforts of people like Jimmy V. They chose to go above and beyond their personal battles to give something to us. They gave the messages we need to hear, were templates for actions we need to try, the best to strive for.

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