By my rough calculations, I’m about 2 months behind my normal pace of life. Surgery, recovery, new job, nausea, fatigue, multiple doctors, chemo aside, I guess that’s pretty good. Yesterday, I went shopping in San Marcos with friends. After about three hours, I was exhausted. It was very hot and my stamina is low. I felt really terrible about having to end our excursion to the point that I wished I hadn’t gone. My MD said it will take a year for me to get back to my normal level of activity. I cannot even fathom that thought so I keep trying to do things I use to do and failing miserably. I don’t look sick at all so it throws people when I say “I can’t.” Believe me, it’s harder to say than it is to hear. This experience has been most humbling. A decade ago I learned to say “No, I can’t right now.” but now, “I can’t” means that I cannot do it at all. Not for weeks, or months, or maybe ever…But here’s what I can do. I can love unconditionally. I can get back to my volunteer work with as much passion if not as much time. I can keep giving my day job the best of my mind which, thankfully, is my primary duty as I am no longer in clinical practice. And I can smile, smile, smile. Some days my face is so swollen I can’t see the dimples that have been in my family for generations. My 2 month old grandson even has them. The first time it happened I was stunned. After a few days of medicine related water retention, I forgot my own smile. Imagine that. Yet, there are surely people in Syria and Afghanistan who have the same experience. My smile is hidden by an illness I fight with all my might every day. Theirs is buried in pain from a fight they didn’t start and cannot win. With all the accumulated resources and wealth of the world, none of us should be suffering. But science will find a cure for cancer before politicians find a cure for war.
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