Sunday, February 6, 2011

No Cancer After 5

Once you have a metastatic cancer (Stage 4 - meaning it has spread and can only be eliminated by systemic treatment - i.e., whole body chemotherapy or biological therapy - not spot treatment such as surgical removal or radiation of a tumor), especially one like melanoma that does not have a reliable and relatively predictable treatment path to being NED (no evidence of disease), cancer does sort of become a 24x7, 7 day a week discussion.  It may be a discussion in your own head, it may be in your dreams, or it may be between the two of you.  As a cabana boy, it is constantly on my mind.  I mean, I worry about other things too, like the boys.  Life goes on, you still have to pay the bills and pick up dog poop.  But it's never away from your mind.  When I'm with Meagan it often becomes a topic - spoken or unspoken.  Even the amazing rituals we have adopted, like our matcha tea in the morning, as lovely as they are, have a root cause in the cancer.

As husband and wife there are also natural times for discussion, like pillow talk right before sleep.  Sleep is hard enough to come by when you are worried - it doesn't make it easier if right before sleep you are talking cancer.  So one thing we tried - is a new "rule" once in a while.  No cancer talk after 5pm.  Just focus on the good things in life, being here and now, diversions and enjoying each other. We used to to a date night when we had kids at home - now as empty nesters every night is a date night.  But it's easy to fall into routine, and easy to talk about cancer.  But my sense is that if once in a while the focus is on the other person for their qualities and connection irrespective of cancer, the level of intimacy and love will be sustained.  We'll see if it sticks and works.

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