Sunday, March 27, 2011

Does Cancer Hurt?

"A man's illness is his private territory and, no matter how much he loves you and how close you are, you stay an outsider. You are healthy." - Lauren Bacall

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, one of my students shyly asked, "Ms. Johnston, does cancer hurt?"

I could see the worry in her expression, and I gave her the only answer I could: "No, it doesn't hurt at all - I'm just a little tired, but I'm not in any pain."

That, was a lie.

Cancer hurts - not only does it wage a brutally physical and psychological war against the patient, but it injurers the patient's friends and family - innocent bystanders - along the way. One of the most painful things about having cancer is watching the people around you, whom you love with all your heart, become deathly afraid of losing you... sometimes they look at you so intensely, so desperately, that it's almost as if they are searching your gaze in hopes of uncovering some secret expiration date stamped on your pupils.

I don't know if my increasing pain and decreasing health is related to the carcinoid cancer or something totally different; what I do know is this - my body is in the middle of a mutiny, and my friends and family are helplessly watching as this syndrome, or illness, or cancer (whatever it is) is conspiring and rebelling against me. In the end, the fight is mine to win.


  1. I can truly relate to the feelings you express in this beautifully written post. As bad as things got for me, I couldn't even imagine what it was like for my loved ones to watch helplessly from the outside. And the biggest thing I felt when this cancer journey began for me was such a betrayal by my own body. The emotional pain from that will take a long time to heal. I still deal with the physical pain and realize that my body will never be the same again.

    I'm sorry to hear that you're dealing with more pain lately. The only advice I can offer is that you talk to your doctors about the pain and the symptoms you've felt so that they can help find a solution for you. I hope that your upcoming Dr appointments bring you some reassurance and some peace of mind.

  2. i love you!

  3. Thanks Stephanie and Christine...your support means so much to me; reading your comments always makes me feel stronger. You guys are awesome.