Having cancer means both a renewed appreciation for
life and a fairly constant low level of anxiety that roars
in your ear like a sea shell held up to summon the ocean.
I am very sad about the death of Dana Reeve this week from causes
related to lung cancer. Her personal devotion to her late husband
Christopher Reeve for over a decade after his paralyzing
accident was inspiring. And perhaps even more inspiring was the
way they both used his accident as an opportunity to contribute
to the wider community. To lobby for stem cell research, changing
insurance laws and to educating around disability issues.
After Christopher Reeve died in 2004, she announced her intention
to more fully resume her acting and singing career. Instead,
she was diagnosed with lung cancer this past August and
died scarcely six months after that. She was 44 years old
and leaves behind Will, their13 year old son. I
can't begin to imagine how that young man must be feeling
or the sense of loss he will sustain throughout his life.
Who is to say what is a life well lived. We each make choices
and have to decide what we find meaningful. I admired Dana Reeve
tremendously and wish she had had more time to sing her song. Although
that was quite a duet she did with her husband for so many years
As for myself, I am now feeling scared. I had pneumonia pretty
badly last winter and had a hard time shaking it. I have
some scar tissue in my lungs from the radiation I had
for breast cancer eight years ago. I know my lungs are not
what they used to be.
This ole grey mare, she ain't what she used to be. . . .
I know that exercise is one way I can try to build up my lungs.
I reminded myself of that as I sweated on the treadmill this afternoon.
But even with exercise, I don't know what I can do to further
protect myself. I am afraid of lung cancer and I had never
even thought about it until about a year ago.
When I hear someone say "I'm afraid of . . . " I think that
1) yes, they
are afraid and 2) but maybe fear is a state of mind and not
so attacted to an object. In fact, I'm wondering if we create
cancer and other diseases by letting them occur. I'm even so
crazy as to imagine that we could learn to stop aging from
occuring . . . but I also think that we should be able to
walk through walls (though the technique escapes me)."
a while, I had a girlfriend named Laura shortly after I completed
my treatment for breast cancer. She was young
and cute and
smitten. I will never forget sleeping with her. How easily
and beautifully we connected sexually. How gently she tended
to the wounded part of me.
I will always be grateful that she helped me return to the
pleasures of my body after the assault of surgery and radiation. After
the devastation of the diagnosis.
For a while, we had a sweet and cozy fit together. But it didn't
last long.The more I returned to my life, the further we
I could deal with the fact that we were so far apart intellectually
and professionally. Although that wasn't ideal, I figured I
could get that kind of stimulation elsewhere and so could she.
But the disparity in our physical values became too loud.
I started going to the gym to try to get my strength back. I
even bought a family membership for the two of us. She would
rarely go. She preferred to sit outside and smoke, waiting
I was incensed. One day when she was impatient waiting for me,
I remember screaming, "I am fighting for
my life and you re so cavalier with yours."
She said—and rightly so—"It's my life. I
can smoke if I want to."
Of course she could. She could and she did. But it was a
deal breaker for me. It is one of the reasons I left her.
Saturday, Mar 11, 2006