I've made some pretty strong statements about false hope, flim-flam, alternative medicines...anything that sucks the money out of the wallets of the vulnerable, that dangles the unbelievable in front of the susceptible, against wasted optimism. (Some would argue optimism is never wasted, I disagree but will concede that if not wasted, it is sometimes misplaced.)
A couple of weeks ago in the worst period post-chemo yet, I did a little clinging myself. In my post chemo recovery I experience a nagging and persistent baseline nausea. Look, even in my darkest misery thus far, I am keenly aware that others, most others, are suffering chemo effects far worse than I. Even a couple of trips to Urgent Care in the last couple of months, once by ambulance, have only served to remind me that there are others, many others, in far worse condition.
And yet this ongoing, never ceasing nausea can occasionally get away from me, and on this occasion it led to a closer familiarisation with the family commode, one that I had desperately wanted to avoid. I have a good friend who refers to that as the "childhood fear of vomiting." Yup, not gonna deny it.
As I experienced the worst of it, and my spirit took a temporary leave of my wretched body to confer with my psyche, I began to wonder what was the point of all this? Why put myself through such misery for a fatal disease that will not be cured by treatment? The chemo is only to control the symptoms.
And it occurred to me that even a false hope, a faint chance of a cure if I believed, might be enough to make the next 90 seconds, if not bearable, then less insufferable. And the next 90 seconds after that, and the next several minutes after that. I understood. I needed something on which to focus; on which to cling. I understood those who desperately embrace that which, given different circumstances, they might reject or at least retain some sense of caution.
And while I don't begrudge those who take that route as a means, these are the short bursts of helplessness and discomfort and yes, pain that I knew were ahead of me when the verdict was rendered. What was that line from Poltergeist? "they're here...."
I don't know what the answer is. When the pain grows more frequent or perhaps less manageable, what will be my focus point? I just have to get through this so.... I have to hang on so that....so we can... So what? I don't know. But I do know this.
I do not travel this path alone.