Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes


Love In The Time Of Cancer

Posted on January 07, 2004 by jimparedes

There’s something that I’ve been wanting to share in this blog for the past two months but have hesitated. The reason for this is it’s about my Significant Other who is quite a private person. But since so many strangers have been coming up to us showing concern, here it is.

Lydia has breast cancer. After our New Zealand-Australia trip with APO and wives last November, she went for a check up and the doctor told her that a cyst on her left breast was malignant-stage 1. Not long after, she had two lumpectomies done. Luckily these days, mastectomy or total breast removal is not standard procedure anymore for breast cancer cases. They ended up taking out an almost two centimeter lump. Even if the prognosis is good, knowing that she has cancer was quite traumatic especially for her. And that seemed the easy part.

Tomorrow she begins chemotherapy. We are all quite anxious about it since chemo can really take a toll on the body. The chemo fluids enter the body and destroy the cancerous cells. But in the process, it also kills the good with the bad fast growing cells. Immediate effects can be vomiting, mouth sores, a debilitated body with extreme discomfort for about two days after chemo infusion. And yes, hair loss in two weeks! She will be getting 4 rounds of chemo (one every three weeks). After chemo, she rests for a month and then begins radiation treatment which will run for 32 days. The doctor says that pain-wise, radiation is a cinch! It’s the chemo that’s worrisome.

Cancer is a strange thing. One can be detached and clinical about it–that is, until it hits home. It reminds me of what an uncle said many years ago about Martial Law. He said, “Martial law is OK until it happens to you”.

But strangely enough, as I have a more direct and extensive understanding of my wife’s case, I find myself NOT falling apart. I am rather calm and collected about it and so can concentrate on being supportive and patient as she goes through her doubts and fears about her condition.

In all this, I see excellent opportunities for greater spiritual practice– of compassion and yes, detachment. While I will be present for Lydia and will be there for whatever she may need, I will also work on accepting the new realities that we will have to cope with as our bodies become more mortal in the coming years.

For Lydia and I, our three kids and all our friends, it is a time when connections, friendships and intimacies can be cultivated in deeper ways. On the one hand, attachments are made, but on the other, one must let go of expectations and allow the course of things to unravel without clinging to outcomes. This is the paradox of existence. You may love as much as you want, but must do so without expectations.

I am convinced that in the end, God really does not give importance to the things our bodies hold dear–youth, vanity, health, wealth, fame, comfort and all that. While His/Her value system seems based on intangible stuff, I am sure it is no less real–probably the only real stuff there is..

Just the same, I pray that if we cannot have the outcome we want, we may have the peace to accept whatever shows up!

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