How can it be true that as my body is eaten away by cancer that some people cannot help but stick one more knife in my back …actually….in my family’s back? Is it because I am not sick in front of their eyes 24 hours a day? Is it because I haven’t wasted away from chemo or died quick enough for them? Is it really true that they are so shallow that they think one more bad thing in my family’s life doesn’t matter? That we won’t collapse under it’s added weight? I was going to post on cancer and suicide this week but maybe I will combine everything into a single rambling post. I wanted to rip away the “we’re OK” disguise and post on what a lot of us have gone through or are going through now. Suicidal thoughts and a cancer diagnosis often go hand in hand.
One More Knife In My Back And Suicide
So, here goes. Let me say right away that I am not a doctor or psychiatrist etc. I am only talking from my point of view….and sharing my experiences. I hope that if you truly need professional help that you will seek it. Suicide is one of the most taboo subjects that exists but let’s stop lying…there are so many of us have who have had suicidal thoughts because of our cancer. Yes, other things can lead to suicidal thoughts but that’s another subject and not what I am focusing on. I am writing this from my point of view as a cancer patient and not as a care giver or family member…I am not trying to leave you out but it is easier to write about things that I know. I hope that’s OK with everyone. 🙂 First, let me say that I am not having suicidal thoughts but as you probably suspect, I am depressed. That one last knife I referred to in the opening paragraph….well, it has done it’s job. I’m down for the count. 🙁 The good news is…David has been giving me extra hugs. How does he know? I thought I was faking it pretty good. Kids….so sweet. 🙂
Let me set the scene. I am alone. I am in another state with only 2 friends close to me. All of my other friends and family are back in New York. I am in North Carolina. I have just started a new job after Lisa and I both lost our jobs, after having COBRA insurance drain every last penny from our bank account, after having the sale of our house fall through and linger on the market, yes….more. The light at the end of the tunnel is my new job. I am getting pretty good money for New York and great money for North Carolina. Maybe, I can keep my family afloat long enough to sell my house and bring my family down south? I get home from work one day and there is a message on my phone. Like most of you, I have my phone on vibrate when I’m at work so, I must have missed it. I check my message and it’s my doctor from New York. I have cancer. Your can read my cancer story and my updated cancer story by clicking on these links. It’s a little too much to post here. 🙂
Well, of course, I am stunned. I take it in and call my friends and family. Needless to say, they are stunned as well. Everyone is saying how surprised they are that I am taking it so well. To be honest, I am taking it well. I am pretty tough and good in a crisis. Time goes by and so do doctors…and then I finally hear the number that shakes me to the core. You have 2 years to live. Nothing can be done for you. Prepare your things. Somewhere in that swirl of doctors, years to live, tears, symptoms and so on…I thought about suicide. More than one time. Now, those thoughts did not last long for me. I know they do for others and I respect that and the pain causing those thoughts. Know that there are a large number of us cancer patients that have these dark thoughts….if not all…and especially those with more aggressive forms of cancer. You are not alone in this.
My Reason To Live
Let me confess something before we really get going. I am a super logical guy and so thinking of killing myself because I was told I was gonna die seemed illogical to me. I know, it’s stupid but that’s who I am. If I was upset that I was gonna die then why speed that up? I know, you’re probably rolling your eyes right now but don’t judge me…it’s a sickness. 🙂
You see, no health professionals that I had met at that point cared enough to even try and help me live one more day. They said they were going to make it comfortable for me to die. Nobody was on my side in the medical profession. They wrote me off…yes, even some Neuroendocrine / Carcinoid Cancer “doctors” wrote me off. This idea motivated me to fight for my life. I feel that I wouldn’t even be here if I hadn’t fought so hard. I no longer trusted the doctors and so, I took matters into my own hands and began to fight for myself and my loved ones. I decided that I wanted to live and would fight to do so.
Also, I was lucky to have David and Lisa. I wake up just to see their faces every day. I couldn’t leave them that way…not with all of that pain. The boy would have no Dad and would be scarred from my actions…..I couldn’t do it. 🙂 I loved them too much. It’s bad enough that my sickness will eventually cause him some of the worst pain of his life. I decided to make memories instead.
My final thoughts are deeply personal but I like to share everything that I think might help others in some way. My faith really got me through the darkest of times. When I was just a kid, I chose to ask forgiveness for my sins, turn away from those sins and trusted Jesus to forgive me rather than trying to earn my way to unity with our Creator through my good deeds. Yes, I decided to follow Jesus as the old saying goes. 🙂
In all of that time I have been faithful, unfaithful, good, bad and in between but the one thing that remained the same was how much God loved me. In my darker times it didn’t seem smart to distrust my creator. I put all of my cares in his hands and he has pulled me out of the worst and deepest holes both emotionally and in other ways. Even when I had no strength to trust him…. somehow God was there for me and I was lifted up and out of my despair. So, now why should I distrust him in my darkest of times? I chose to trust the God that says I am his child and that I am loved. I put my life and my family’s life in God’s hands. I even wrote a short blog post on it. Read It Here
I’m Still Here
I won’t say that moments of darkness don’t pass my way but, I’m still here. As I look back at the road blocks, dark moments and so on, it strikes me that I have passed through those moments and made it to this moment. That alone gives me strength for the next moment. I am not saying that times of pain and depression don’t hit but I guess that I am saying that I feel more equipped to handle them now that I have gone through them in the way that I described above. That includes my current sadness.
I know that right now, there are some of us considering suicide. I would plead with you not to do it. I also know that some of you have gone through much worse than I or are going through much worse now. Finally, there are some going through much less than I have ever gone through. They have it “easy” compared to me but to them it is the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23). I do not judge. Please forgive me for speaking about your pain or experiences…..I know nothing but my own pain and that I desire to be of aid to others. I described how I made it through and I know that not everyone here is or wants to be a Christian BUT I do know that there are many things that help. Again, I am not a professional and please seek help from a professional if you need it. Still…here’s my list of things I turn to that I consider helpful. 😀
The Universe – No, not everyone is a Christian but most people believe in God in some way. I often look up at the sky and think, “God is in control”. After all, if he can make all of this AND keep his eye on it well, then he is aware of my problems too.
The earth – Sometimes, I look at the great paintings from the artists that inspire me and think, “Bravo!!! You captured the beauty you see and made something to share with others.” I think those things when I hear beautiful music or read amazing things as well. Sunsets and sunrises do it for me too. I love to sit and think about how deep the ocean is and swarming with life……up, up, up to the grassy shores…past the birds….up to the level ground where trees begin to dot the landscape and reach up to the blue sky with branches spreading in every direction…..and soft breezes take the clouds to places I’ve never seen or been to. The earth is so beautiful. It can really give you a second wind when things have got you down.
Animals – There is nothing that beats the unconditional love animals have for us. I cannot tell you how many times I have found comfort just sitting with an animal and relaxing. I love animals but they love us so much more. Well, except for one cat I had…he had an attitude…but you know what I’m saying! 😀 Pets are the best. But, even if you don’t have a pet, there is so much joy in watching wild animals from a distance. You can enjoy their beauty, elegance and the joy the little ones show when they play. Animals are a true gift and can cheer you up if you give them a chance.
People – I’m not talking about family and friends. I’m talking about strangers. No, they don’t know what you’re going through but sometimes they do and sometimes it doesn’t matter….because they care. A good example of that is some of the support groups that exist…digital and physical. You will find the most supportive people in some of these groups….I am so glad they exist. I find comfort in Church as well which is very similar to a support group but without the actual knowledge about my illness but that’s OK with me.
On the other hand, it could just be a random stranger with a kind word. This will make you laugh but some of the most encouraging people that I have ever met have been going through the TSA lines in the airport on the way to cancer treatment. There’s nothing like getting a pep talk while you’re getting frisked. 😀 By the way, it happens almost every time.
Of course, you can use all of these opportunities to help others which helps you focus on something other than your problems. Now, I have met people who are pretty dogmatic about this idea. I remember one woman in a Facebook support group that wouldn’t take no for an answer. She thought I needed to help others and was willing to argue with me until I obeyed her dogmatic beliefs. I won’t go into the nitty gritty of it but just know that these are all suggestions not something you must do. You cannot be forced to walk any path and, if you are, there is no surety that it will help you. I suggest that you take the advice of others willingly, and thank them for it, but make your own decisions regarding what path you walk. 😀
Friends and Family – Now, I know that this may be a reason for some of the pain you’re in but if not well then seek comfort in their arms. Don’t be too proud….just talk to them….they will listen. Maybe you have that special someone you’ve always bonded with? Maybe…just be with them? Don’t discuss your problems….just be with them. Sometimes it’s nice to just sit and chat…or whatever makes you feel good around them. Take advantage of that relationship. 😀
Hobbies and Stuff – It sounds crass but stuff can make you feel better for the moment. I used to distract myself with video games. It worked for me….especially if there was a puzzle in it. Now, I will take my camera and try to find something beautiful and, if I am lucky, make something artistic out of the photograph. It can keep me distracted when I need distracting.
Make you own list of things that inspire you and keep it handy. You might find that idea useful when you need to be cheered up. If you need help from a friend or family or a professional don’t delay…just ask for help. 😀 The idea is to stick around and see another beautiful day.