Thursday, February 20, 2014


I went through 12 years of Catholic school. I'm sure teachings on this have changed significantly over the years, but in first and second grades, we learned a lot about purgatory, the place between heaven and hell where you went if you weren't quite good enough to get straight into heaven, but certainly were not bad enough to go straight to H-E-L-L. Purgatory housed people who didn't have enough graces (I used to think of it like collecting enough skee ball tickets to get the big prize at Castle Park) or didn't say a perfect Act of Contrition before they died, or maybe you were a baby who had not been baptised and therefore had not committed any sin but had not been cleansed of Original Sin. Whatever the story, you were stuck in no-man's-land until enough people left behind prayed for your soul and you collected enough grace tickets to gain entry into heaven...or you just languished there forever.
The aftermath of cancer, after the treatment, at least in the beginning...that's like purgatory.
Heaven would be the rest of your life cancer-free, but of course no one knows if that will happen until, well, until they die without having a recurrance. So basically you still live your life in purgatory. I'm sure as the years go on without any problems purgatory transforms into a much more comfortable place. Don't get me wrong - after this crap, even in purgatory most of us are trying to dance more, laugh more, be a little more wild and at times reckless - and get all of the tickets that we can from the damn skee ball machine. Purgatory doesn't have to be boring, but it is at times...I don't know...heavy.
Because you know that at any moment the cancer bitch could come up and sucker punch you and steal all of your tickets because SHE wanted the 5000 point prize and the floor drops and down you go...and you find yourself in a doctor's office, being told that the scan doesn't look good.
When you join this craptastic club, unless you shut yourself off from everyone, which some days you really want to do, you will see loss. You will have a front seat to shitty outcomes for people you may never have even met in person but care about and cry for and hurt for. You will hear of a bad diagnosis, of mets, and the twisted black tiny portion of your mind that you are ashamed of but that is purely human and natural will sigh and think thank god that's not me. And you will cry silent tears while you are rocking your baby before bed. You will go and sob alone and undetected in the shower and you will dry your eyes and go read to your son before bedtime. And then you will spend the next week rehashing over and over again the thought that this could be you, at any time. But then you will get up and brush yourself off, and put on loud music and dance and sing and keep on swimming and live in purgatory.  
In the past six months, in my small 120 or so person facebook group, we have lost one person, one person's mets have spread and the chemo is no longer working so well, one other person has had brain surgery and radiation due to mets and one was just diagnosed with mets today. I'm just angry. Angry that it's still a zero-sum game, angry that all too often someone gets sucker punched and robbed. I'm just angry.

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