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Why Chronic Cancer is Like a Day at the State Fair.....

Tuesday, April 02, 2013/Number of views (3389)/Comments (4)

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As some of you know, recently have been helping a friend who is dealing with a very serious cancer at a decision point in her treatment. And it has caused me to reflect on this journey of having chronic cancer. Before getting cancer, I pretty much thought that you either had it (chemo, baldness, tests, flowers and surgery) or you didn't (work, life, laundry, baseball and lasagna). But those extremes don't exist for me or my friend because our cancer is described as "chronic." That means that no one expects it to go away, we may get periods of respite between "episodes" but never expect it to be a past event. In short, like the Terminator, it just keeps coming. That is why people always ask me how long I have been in remission because I don't look like someone currently battling cancer. They think like I used to -- you're either in or out. 

A friend of my recently opined that he did not realize that so much of having cancer is waiting. Scary waiting. Thus my analogy to the State Fair. Let us start with the haunted house: you KNOW that something is going to jump out and get you as you gingerly mince your way through the darkened halls, but you are never sure quite when. Around this corner? From above? Is something grabbing at my feet? And you are tense the entire time, until you emerge into the sunlight and can relax. Well, with chronic cancer there is no leaving the haunted house -- you just keep walking around and around waiting for the scare -- be it a big one or a little one.

Further, at the fair itself, you are keenly aware that you only have so much time here and so much room in your stomach. How should you spend it? Funnel cake or french fries? Should we check out the baby goats or wait in the long line for the super fast upside-down ride? Should we spend money on the whack a mole or is that just too frivolous? Should we relax on a bench or race to catch the geek show? Do we stay here until the last minute or is it "okay" to leave earlier? Not huge questions when it comes to a day at the fair, but they are huge questions when applied to a whole life.

I feel guilty many times that I sit down and watch television -- especially something kind of mindless like Love It or List It. 30 more minutes of my life, gone. But running from ride to ride at the fair doesn't sound like good living either. Forced relaxation is a tough skill too. Argh. Stupid Cancer. 

I know that some people have a cancer that is removed or beaten by chemo and never seen again. I understand that those people might be able to look at their illness through their rear view mirror. But for my friend and me, cancer is with us -- sometimes a hot war, sometimes a cold war, but never over. For those of you lucky enough not to have an illness like this, I hope this blog lets you understand your friend, your family member, your neighbor just a little bit better. For my brothers and sisters that fight the good fight every day (on and off), may you live fully, even while looking out for the demons in the spooky house.

Hey, if you like it....share it.

Categories: Esther's World

4 comments on article "Why Chronic Cancer is Like a Day at the State Fair....."


Mary Dyer

4/3/2013 5:52 AM

I cannot believe how well you have summed up exactly how I feel. My ovarian cancer is the slow growing type so chemo will not do me any good. I am taking a hormone blocker and every 3 months I go for scans and blood work. I do not look sick, but the stress between Dr. visits is agony. I am going to share your blog, because I cannot say it any better. Thanks!


Janice Holman

4/4/2013 1:03 PM

I have never been able to put into words what you just wrote; so I had to share it with the world; I am a advanced stage IV Ovarian Cancer patient who has not had chemo since sept of 2012; I don't look sick anymore; I started on supplements and juicing for nutrition; so far all the cancer has calcified and died; but they (the medical dr's) keep telling me it WILL come back; it's just a matter of when. Well,, I'm here to tell the world that if you live a healthy life while dealing with this demon it just MIGHT GO AWAY. I have put this in GODS HANDS as I could no longer take the chemo; and was TIRED of being sick; now I am able to live and look like a real person again with hair and much less stress. My point, there is always a way to look at things in the light of darkness and his name is GOD.

Blessings this day and always to those to fight, survive and WIN.


Liz Oppo

5/30/2013 10:29 AM

Esther, you are very brave. It is healthy to admit we have things that we are afraid of. My 19 yr. old daughter lost her fight with a rare form of ovarian cancer, but she did not give up, ever. We don't know enough about this disease so I, too have dedicated my time to funding research and trying to discover some form of prevention. The medical profession tells us that so far, taking birth control pills for 3 years or more can help prevent ovarian cancer. Why? because we then ovulate less. But that's not enough of an answer for me. What happens when we ovulate too often (over our life-times) that causes or helps to promote cancer? Please visit our website to learn more about us: xo Liz



10/17/2013 8:23 AM

You are a really strong writer - you capture the different facets so accurately. Thank you!

warmly, marcy

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