Sometimes You Just Get So Low

WARNING: Downer cancer discussion to follow.  Will totally understand if you’re looking for more positive way to spend your leisure time. If you are unable to make a quick trip to a beach (I can’t either), here are some suggestions:  1. Listen to reggae – I use Spotify a lot for impromptu music listening. 2. Go get a frozen yogurt – you know – CherryBerry, Yogo Bowl, whatever your local place is called. 3. Check out the latest RA discovery from Mr. Ascroft:


Photograph by Robert Ascroft. From, 2012 Promo Gallery.

Whew, that helps.

For me, cancer is such a roller coaster. The goal is to rise above what’s happening to you physically, see yourself as a spectator in the everyday events of your life. Cancer may kill you, so do all these things to make the most out of your life now. But sometime I get so tired of hearing how I should think, what I should eat, do these exercises everyday, just have this kind of attitude. Be happy, you have an incurable disease.

Reasons for the downer attitude: I’m near the end of the two-week chemo cycle. Usually I feel really good by now, the side effects having subsided during the middle of the cycle. But this time was unusually rough, with mouth sore issues to the point where I was unable to eat solid food for a week. I guess it was nice to lose a little weight, but I don’t recommend that particular diet plan. The hip/back pain I deal with, due to a combination of the cancer and a chronic condition I’ve had for years, had been substantially better for the past two weeks. It returned two days ago, at the same intensity as before. That plus fatigue and “digestive issues” due to weird diet and/or chemo, has left me feeling very frustrated.

Here’s why: Because of the extreme side effects this time, I’m afraid my oncologist will want me to hold off on another chemo treatment until my next trip in early June to M.D. Anderson for scans and “re-staging.” That is, they see if/how much the cancer has “progressed” (That’s a misnomer if I’ve ever heard one.) and decide on what treatment to do next. First, that means going about 5 or 6 weeks with no treatment.  Second, I’m reaching the end of the officially accepted treatments for colon cancer. There may be one other chemo drug to try, but then the next step  is to get into a clinical trial, which seems like the last ditch effort to control the disease before they give up on you entirely. At least that’s what it feels like. And it’s scary. For all the talk about reaching the spiritual plane where you find peace and acceptance, when it starts to become real, it’s just damn scary.

Slowly this disease and its treatment seem to be sapping my strength, my resolve to keep fighting, and the “wow, you’ve got a great attitude, you should blog about this” attitude. My body doesn’t seem to bounce back as fast from chemo, the cancer has continued to gradually grow. I just get tired of it all.

You see there are problems we (meaning husband and I) try not to over-stress about because they’re “fixable.” Relationship issues, financial woes, career choices, children’s’ issues, and so on – these will have a end to them. Somehow they will resolve themselves. Cancer – at the stage where I am – is probably not fixable, unless some new medical discovery or a miracle comes to the rescue. Everyone, please understand I’m not trying to downgrade anyone else’s major life issues. Your life causes pain, frustration, and anxiety that you must deal with.  It is not small stuff. Things seem insurmountable and unresolvable. I’ve been there, too. But I need to rant; please indulge me.

Sorry for all the rambling. I just needed to do this – to “grouse” a bit. Do you think going into the back yard and screaming will help? What’s that? More Armitage, you say? Maybe something beachy, summery? And remember the mantra – live in the moment? Ok, I’ll try.


Photograph by Robert Ascroft. From, 2012 Promo Gallery.

11 thoughts on “Sometimes You Just Get So Low

  1. katie70

    Servetus is right It is your blog and you need to write what you want to. As you blog I am sure you will find your voice to write, baby steps maybe. I don’t blog as I really don’t have the time to.

    Both my mom and FIL had cancer and didn’t beat it. Seeing everything that they went though, I think I can somewhat understand what you are saying. But no one can fully understand what any one person is going though as it is one persons experience, we all go though and see things different. My mom had an “I am going to beat this” attitude till very close to the end, then she pretty much stopped talking at all. My FIL was somewhat the same, but not. He had chemo and my mom never got strong again to try. About 7 months after my mom death I was found to have cysts and until they where removed and found out there was no cancer I was very scared, and so soon after my mom. I really had no one to talk to other than my husband, no one understood the fear other than he did.

    You have a right to feel the way you do, and no one can take that from you. I do find that a RA picture is good to help though the bad experience.

    1. justmepurring Post author

      Thanks for the support. I’m glad to hear from you. After Servetus mentioned you and the interpersonal communications classes you teach, I was curious. It seems like that discipline would have a field day with social media.

      I guess my comments near the end of that post were to head off any feelings that I was claiming some priority in the suffering department. Like, “Oh, you think you’ve got problems, I’ve got cancer.” I certainly didn’t want to come off that way, especially this early in my blogging existence. But I have had a number of comments that reassure me about the blog being my space for my thoughts and emotions. I do appreciate that, since the freedom to express those thoughts and emotions was much of the impetus behind starting to blog in the first place.

      It sounds like your family has more than its share of experience with cancer. And, as you say, I don’t think anyone can really relate to the emotions involved unless they have directly experienced it. Even among cancer survivors, those who are treated and “cured” are not really having to deal with the same issues as someone whose cancer is incurable. I can relate to your Mother’s attitude, and I have heard many people say that a positive outlook like that can help extend your life, even if it doesn’t offer a cure. I must say now that I’m almost in my fourth year of dealing with cancer, it’s difficult to envision a complete recovery. But I’m trying to learn how to keep a “live for the moment” attitude as much as I can, even though it goes against some of my natural tendencies. It’s often a struggle, but the moment right now is really all any of us has, isn’t it?

      I would certainly hope neither you nor your family ever have to deal with cancer again, but let me just share this. There are some wonderful support groups out there, starting with the American Cancer Society (or probably similar ones in other countries if that’s where you are), who offer forums, toll free hotlines, and other resources which can help with the feeling that no one understands what you’re going through.

      I will try to take the advice to heart and be possessive about using MY blog to express MY feelings. And, with lots of Armitage photos in there, too!

      1. katie70

        I don’t teach but am a student working to get associates degree in Occupational Therapy Assistant. I am working on the generals and had wanted to take Intro to Psychology so I could hopefully use my 21 year old sons book. The on-line classes where filled up and I needed to take a class, I remembered the adult ed teacher who helps me with math gave a a class list for out tech school outreach site in my town, the only class on the list was Oral/Interpersonal Communication. It is like I was pushed to take this class for a reason. At first I thought that it was something that I already had and by my age should know, but I learned a lot and just keeping sharing it, good to put in practice what I have learned. We did talk about social media, our book was put out in 2011 and put how we should use it and names for different things. We also talked about today’s youth and putting everything about yourself out there. The average age of our class was I would say 30, with a couple of people late 40’s and in there early 50’s. The 2 of them used social media more than I do.

        Knowing that there is no cure is hard to face, my FIL did everything he could to beat the cancer it just wore him out in the end, where he said no more. He former business partner has had cancer 3 times, once when my FIL did, once when my mom did (the same type of cancer which we where told was rare, but in different places) and now again. We have told that he is in a very low place right now but will keep fighting as his youngest is 11. My mom only lived 2 months after we found out, it was a fast spreading cancer. I made the mistake of showing my husband a picture of my mom in the nursing home, he took it very hard. She had very little gray hair at 67 and in less than 2 weeks was almost all gray. Yes live for the moment is what you should do and I would also have a hard time doing the same.

        I live in the US and know that here is help out there. My FIL got hospice for 4 days and my mom was to get it the day she died. But hospice has been brought in for my 90 year old dad when things where bad with him, they offered support, I tend to bottle it up. I also found out at the time that hospice can be there if things look as if the end is there, but don’t mean the person can’t get better as my dad did.

        I have found great support from all the on-line friends that I have “met” because of our like of one actor. There are days of lots of laughs and days where you will need a Kleenex but there is good to be had.
        ((Hugs)) Katie

      2. justmepurring Post author

        Hi, Katie, I just wanted to say thanks for the comment. I wanted to take the time to answer it properly since you took the time to write it! I’ll get back to it soon!
        justmepurring (Cat or JMP for short!)

  2. morrighansmuse

    Definitely don’t see this post as a downer. It’s your blog, your space on the Internet, and it’s also what life is all about. We take the bad with the good.

    It’s also good to let things go now and then, and lighten the load you’re carrying. Hugs to you and your path to healing and I’m glad to have found your blog 🙂

    1. justmepurring Post author

      Morrighansmuse, I appreciate that you could see through the downer talk on this one. Absolutely right on all points! I’m still working on getting my head straight about MY blog. My motivation was to vent since I was in such a bad mood as I started the post; then, as it unfolded I felt much better. Lightening the load? Armitage power? Probably some of both. At any rate, thanks for stopping by and for your kind words.

  3. Joanna

    Hi Aurora! 🙂
    Sometimes it seems to me that Richie is the cure for all evil.
    One of my best RAfriends Kofika once told me that I must hug her very delicately… let me hug you delicately Joanna from Poland:*

    1. justmepurring Post author

      Joanna, so glad to hear from you. You’re certainly welcome to call me Aurora – it was actually meant to refer to the real name of Sleeping Beauty. A beautiful name anyway. If justmepurring seems awkward, Cat will do.

      I agree that when I wonder where the good has gone, gazing at someone like RA, with all he represents for those of us who admire him, certainly seems to restore my faith in the world. Such a pleasant cure!

      How sweet to send the delicate hug from Poland! I will take them from delicate to bear hugs, and send one back to you!

  4. Pingback: Cancer Chronicles: Watching & Waiting. | McGSquared

  5. Servetus

    It’s your blog, and you get to say how you’re feeling (as katie70 keeps reminding me on the basis of her interpersonal communication classes). Suffering can’t be compared in any meaningful way — and you are entitled to speak yours.

    My mother is now on her fifth cancer (skin, mouth, thyroid, kidney, ovaries) — she was possibly overexposed to X-rays as a child, but everyone in her nuclear family has died of cancer (bladder, colon, uterus). Pieces of my blog last summer document the last one (surgery, beginning of chemo). I honestly found it easier to talk to her when she admitted that she was troubled or hurting or upset — it seemed more honest to me than the relentless enthusiasm and power of positive thinking that she insisted on most of the time. We had one of the best conversations of our entire lives on the day that she told me the hymns she wants sung at her funeral — even as we agreed that it wasn’t necessary to write them down now, though she wanted to.

    And one thing I’ve learned from blogging about the troubles in my life the last few years — we also witness to our friends directly when we speak about pain and discouragement, even if it’s to document our inability to deal with them. Our friends and family can take more than we credit them for, sometimes …

    Sorry for the essay comment, but I want to agree with you about one last thing — your insight that no matter how much you say you’ve come to terms with the inevitability of something that’s frightening, that the fear doesn’t go away.


    1. justmepurring Post author

      Servetus, thanks for your support. It helps to get some validation of the personal “ownership” of one’s blog. I’m still just sticking my toes into the water, instead of total immersion.

      Your point is well taken.On the other side of it, I have heard of cancer patients who are frustrated when friends and family continually keep up the stream of positive, “up” chatter when that person only wants to talk about the reality of what they are going through. It sounds like you and your mom (bless her heart for all she – and you – have had to go through) have opened up that channel of honest communication. I had a similar conversation with my dad, who suffers from congestive heart failure and an enlarged aorta, a condition which will most likely result in sudden, unpredictable death. We openly discussed our “dying-ness.” It was the most honest conversation we’ve ever had, and we’re much closer because of it. I suppose I need to work toward extending that honest conversation to members of my own family. For now I appreciate the chance to stretch my emotional range on this forum. (This is harder to put into words than I thought it would be!)

      To your final comment – I know that my “coming to terms” is on an intellectual level. As long as there are treatments to try and plenty of the “busyness” of life, it’s easier to appear to have reached a level of acceptance. But most likely there will come a time when the treatments run out,and it’s just a matter of time, with nothing standing between me and death. Then I expect it to hit like a punch to the gut, and I just don’t know…Yes, the fear will still be there.


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