Sunday, December 30, 2012

There are Only Two Stories

It is said that there are only two stories: A man goes on a journey and A stranger comes to town. When I talk to people who want to write about their caregiving experiences I ask them, “Which one is your story?” There is no right answer, of course. Cancer is a journey that men and women go on whether they are the ill person or the well person. And certainly Cancer is a stranger that comes to your town.

In my story John was a stranger who came into my life many years ago. I was a stranger in his life too. After years of correspondence he called one day. Would I come to his school? We became friends. And that lasted for years.  Then more strangers came: romance, seduction and desire. The erotic stranger and a romantic journey. We took the trip. Wildly unprepared. Risking everything.  And then another stranger—cancer—into our life.  I’d met cancer long ago but this one roared in to our lives. Still,  where cancer had devastated me before this one brought a strange healing. Yes it came with so much fear, but fear is not a stranger, rather my familiar through troublesome companion.

 John certainly is on a journey with colon cancer. Life, death, sickness and health are all rising like monuments around us. He is on an emotional journey too. Every test, every treatment has to be met, but these strangers bring things—an insight, a feeling, a friendship.  

If you are having a love affair with cancer what does it feel like to you this year? A journey you have just begun or one that has you standing on tippy-toe hoping that is the next town coming soon? Or is cancer your dark and not so handsome stranger? Is it making you a stranger to your loved ones? That is always the danger. Or is cancer showing you that you were once a stranger to yourself but now you know just who you really are?

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