by NotDownOrOut


I love that my lamp is “missing” a hand. When I saw it at Tuesday Morning I figured the lamp was there because it had been broken, but I now am convinced that the hand is not “missing” at all. Sometimes an object is perfect because of what is not there.

I have been so happy these past few days because my bladder does not hurt. I cannot help myself. I wake up in the morning and the thought of walking down the hall to the bathroom is just something I should do. It is not the beginning of a nightmare.

I come out of the bathroom and I can remember where I was going or what I was doing before I entered the bathroom. For so long it seemed that visiting the bathroom was like ellipses. Life started. It paused. It resumed. Something in the middle was missing. Unless you had a video camera or a Dictaphone to catch the interim you might not know what it was like. It was ugly. Now it is just gone–not missed at all.

Of course, some will look at the lamp and think that the figure at its base is deformed. They will note the lack of symmetry. They will wonder what it is like when the left hand cannot possibly know what the right hand is doing. Some will realize that the figure cannot lend a hand to others without somehow hurting himself. A few may worry that the figure will need help they have no time to provide. One or two will not be able to help themselves. They will wonder what the figure did to deserve this condition (because blessed people, positive people, or health-conscious people avoid calamities, don’t they?). Some will just think, better he than me. Some will think, I have suffered worse.

I am not missing the spoilers either. Neither am I listening to them. The lamp feels whole just as it is. I am just going to be happy today. I hope your day is happy, too!

After I posted this, I received an email from someone who wanted to know whether, by announcing I am no longer in daily pain, I was sacrificing my opportunity to remain “special”–someone marked indelibly by my experience with cancer. I had never thought of my pain as an advantage that was giving me some status that drew attention to me. I still do not think of my experience that way. I am grateful for the insights this experience has given me. I appreciate others’ experiences so much more keenly having seen what some aspects of a cancer diagnosis are like. I ache for people whose circumstances, resources, or outcomes have made the situation so trying.

But recovering from radiation cystitis isn’t going to change that aspect of this experience. Moreover, now that I am feeling better, I hope to be in the position of helping some others as they continue to go through their experiences. Moreover, my “specialness” has caused me to be the target of employment discrimination, and I believe I continue to be the target of some retaliation in the workplace. I don’t think others’ attention or sympathy was ever a salve for those wounds. Moreover, I have yet to meet a cancer survivor (although I recently read something about one) in which the message was that the person would choose to have cancer because it made him or her feel special. Even that person was not focused on the specialness. Her focus appears to have been on the fact that the fire of her trials in some way transformed her nature to draw her closer to her God.

If you have ever considered cancer this way, I’d be interested in hearing more about that. But here’s a spoiler alert: I would tell you what I told the person who sent me the email query, I feel confident that what makes you special is something about your character or personality or behavior other than the fact that you may have a potentially deadly health condition. But I’m open to hearing others’ views!