Friday, December 4, 2009

Hope and Uncertainty

Today, for the first time, I can count the number of remaining rounds on my one hand. It's still two and a half more months of chemo, then radiation and weeks of vaccines, but I'm still proud of having made it this far.

That said, I still can't help being scared sometimes. It's just the honest truth; sometimes, I'm really scared that chemo will stop working, or radiation or these vaccines that are supposed to keep the tumor from returning just won't work and it will come back stronger than ever. One thing I know is that when I finish all of this treatment, I never ever want to endure it again.

But that's the problem, isn't it? There's always uncertainty, no matter what the situation is. It seems that death might be the only real certainty in life.

It wasn't until I got sick that I really understood how one day is never guaranteed from the next. It's difficult to see each day as a blessing, especially when I feel there's so much on which I've been missing out. It's easy to forget that I am still living, I'm still feeling, and I know I'll never stop dreaming.

But death is an inevitable part of life, and unfortunately, it appears to be prevalent in this cancer world; a world I never asked to be a part of, or to be granted access, but it is a world of uncertainty in which I find myself at any rate.

For months, I tore apart my daily life searching for hope, but found nothing but the same familiar loneliness and those same unanswerable questions.

People find unpredictable ways of entering our worlds, and we can't just close ourselves off to them. At least, I can't. The sad part is that we never know how people will leave our worlds, either, though we can anticipate the impact they will leave on our lives and in our hearts.

I feel lucky to have met some amazing people so far along this journey. Between the nurses, doctors, and everyone involved at Columbia and the National Cancer Institute, it's touching to see how many people truly care. And they have to know from the beginning that they can't save everyone, it's just a part of the job description. I admire their ability to persevere, though I doubt whether or not I'm constructed with the emotional fortitude necessary to do what they do.

And then there are those who enter our lives when we least expect them to, seemingly out of thin air, with the ability to change everything without doing anything at all. Like a moth to a flame, we follow their light, unquestioning, and relying on faith that their guidance will uplift our floundering spirits. Of course, these people may not always live up to the billing, or our expectations for them, but then again sometimes they do. And when they do, it's like waking up to a different world. Possibility and adrenaline overshadow uncertainty, and we're given a glimpse of the way life could be; the way it should be.

Once we've tasted that life, that unbridled joy, even for a moment, it's pretty hard to imagine letting it go again. Why would we? Why would we ever want to or have to? I want to be inspired, and I've been given hope; hope that may carry me through these next few months, and hope that this life can still offer me wonderful things that I've not yet come across. But right now, today, there's a pain inside of me that I can't shed, because I don't want to lose that hope and I don't want to go back to my old world.

It doesn't make sense that we could so easily be so happy, but circumstances so far out of our control, or even our realm of influence, dictate our conditions and dole out our pain. I don't use the word "fair" anymore; it's a useless thought that breeds only frustration.

I feel like I've been given the greatest gift one can receive in this life, and for that I am eternally grateful. But in this cancer world, nobody is safe, and I can't keep anyone safe, even those I wish I could more than anything. I suppose that's a fact of life in any case, though, unconfined by the characteristics of illness and disease.

So I'm going to be brave in the face of unshakable uncertainty, and I would never dream of giving back what I have gained. I'll hold onto it as long as I can, because it's changed me, and I'm not going back to the way I was before.

I can't decide the future, regardless of how content I think I could be with what I've found. But I've learned that things can always change, and things can always get better. And, even in spite of the most unlikely odds, people can get better. Odds are just numbers, while people can accomplish amazing things, and miracles do happen. I've got to hold onto that belief, and somehow I've got to have faith that things can turn around, and that I may still end up with what I want. And I know I'll never lose hope. I couldn't, because she, hope, found me.