Writing was part of my coping mechanism when going through treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and my stem cell (bone marrow) transplant. That writing was mainly in the form of blog posts. While The Boring Patient is much more than just a compilation of blog posts, these writings give you a good feel for the style of the book:
You see, that’s the thing about hope – it is not a guarantee or a promise. It is a prayer, and desire, and it lies at the core of making this world a better place. We fight inequity, poverty, corruption because we hope for a better day. We teach because we hope we can impart some idea that will blossom into a better world for all. We raise children in hopes of a better future. We marry because we hope we can live up to the promise of our spouses. We work either out of the hope that our efforts will improve the world, or at least the wages of our labor can provide a better world for us.
See the spectacular every day in the love of friends and family. When you wish your son would just be quiet, remember the wonder and thrill of his first word. Make the next peck on your wife’s cheek rekindle the passion of your first kiss. And laugh – every day – laugh. The world we live in is a wondrous mundane miracle. Rejoice in it.
Now I would like to describe to you the immense awkward feeling you have when in a small examine room with your wife when you are told that your “salvage treatment” (actual medical terminology) is not working. You can’t lose it, or your wife will, and you have to be brave and not wanting to wail like a little girl amongst nurses you have come to know and like. I would like to describe that for you, but before I could figure it out there was a knock on the door.
Then there is a final thought, a crucial insight that must accompany the surrender. If you accept the treatment, and the limitations, and the proxy battle, you can then focus on the other things in your life. You can focus on your son’s graduation. You can focus on your wife’s affection, and the love of friends. You can focus on your work, and your mission, and all the things that will be waiting for you after the poisons and the drugs, and the pain, and the limitations.
Cancer does not make me noble. It makes me afraid and sick. It makes me every day make promises of redemption to my family, friends, and co-workers. “Next year, we’ll do our anniversary in Hawaii,” “next birthday we’ll have a big party,” “next time I teach I’ll pay more attention.” My life has increasingly become a promissory note; one conditioned upon survival.