The Big C


Last January 8, 2011, my mom’s friend died after his long battle with cancer. I know, it has been over a year but I remembered wondering if it was fair to feel relief (after all he had begged to be euthanized several times while he was still alive). The routine that was created by his chemotherapy sessions was dreadful. His sessions have synched with my mother’s calendar because she went running the moment her friend or her friend’s wife came calling. My mother became a wannabe fortuneteller who predicted when the side effects and symptoms set in. It was like celebrating Halloween everyday where all the ghoulish aspect of life come on time to gate crash.

It was agonizing watching my mother worry about where to buy the next set of morphine (when it wasn’t really her problem) because hospitals in the city seemed to be running out of them.  Morphine for his pain – the same pain that partnered with his nausea, vomiting, chills, exhaustion, mouth sores, and fever. I was told that morphine was the only thing that was keeping him alive but the kind of life he had for the last three years before he died can barely be categorized as living.

He wanted to die. He cajoled and pleaded with everyone, most especially to his wife, to set him free because the pain was becoming unbearable.  But how does a wife honor a request that will lead to losing the man she vowed to love? When does one let go after collecting memories with the same person who was asking another to subtly commit murder? Where does it all end when one wants to stop and the other indignantly wants to continue?

What I observed while watching the sordid scene was that no amount of ‘battle’ strategy can convince a dying person. You can try to outwit the person with war languages that revolve around not giving up or encourage him to visualize the disease like an old painting you’re about to wash with white but these will not do. He had decided. He had decided to die because he was bone tired and have not left his bed for months. It was never easy to not equate this with a feeling of failure, when he was the type who have always stood firmly without asking for anybody’s help. The term ‘weakness’ seeped through his literal canvass and mutated into its connotative meaning. He felt that he was no longer the bread winner, the man of the house, the strong father, the lover who pleased his wife in bed. He lost all his titles and this broke his heart. Fighting was no longer an option.

As an observer, I learned something from cancer. It taught me the principle that you can’t always fight your way out of every problem. As much as we want to ‘rage, rage against the dying of the light’ as how Dylan Thomas wrote it, there are things that we just can’t charge full speed ahead. We have to be patient while doing a balancing act of being proactive and surrendering to a new-found reality; a new found reality that only the person with cancer have the power to control.

If you are convinced that it’s a win-lose situation, let me tell you now that it is neither. No one wins, no one loses. That’s just how it is. However, it will define you.

Like This Blog's Posts? Get the latest updates straight to your Email for FREE!
Please check your email to confirm your subscription