I just got news of the death of another friend. Unfortunately, this is part of life when you are a part of the cancer community. Everyone - patients, doctors, nurses, researchers - struggles mightily. But the sad fact is that sometimes people die.
And in this age of the internet, I didn't find out over coffee or by phone call. I saw someone's Facebook post.
I'm deeply saddened by the news. It's not like we were great friends, but I had always liked him. He was a terribly decent guy, interested in lots of things, and a good musician. He was an early hybrid car enthusiast (like me). We had some amusing conversations about our mutual obsession with mileage and low emissions. It had been a few years since I'd seen him, though, since our paths no longer converged.
But sometimes yet another cancer death can hit hard. Sometimes the sad news of someone I haven't seen for a long time, or even someone I only know through their column, blog, or Tweets, can take away my breath.
And I am angry. Yes, I'm angry at the far too premature loss of a good guy. But I'm also angry because I made a deal....
In the middle of radiation I was completely sure that I couldn't go on. I cried every single night, sure I didn't have it in me to go for one more treatment. And in the morning I would get up and go back to the hospital. I was completely exhausted, physically and mentally. Those were dark days. One morning while lying in my uncomfortable radiation mold, I had a sudden fit of dogged obstinacy. I decided I was too stubborn to quit, but I would not continue without a deal. I know this is not really the way the world works, but I made a deal with the universe anyway. I agreed to continue with all of my treatments - every single one - if, in return, no one else would ever have to go through this. That's it - no more cancer diagnoses, surgeries, treatments for everyone. I would finish mine, but no one else would have to.
Yes, of course, it's ridiculous - I know that. But I made the deal; I meant it; I upheld my end of the bargain; I meant it. So all these years later, at the news of yet another cancer death, I'm angry because I meant it.
Along with being angry, I am also grateful. I am grateful that, for whatever reason, I'm still here. I'm grateful that all the things my doctors did worked. I'm grateful that I could go to the gym this morning and kick my own butt with a tough shoulder/upper back workout. I'm grateful that I'm still around to be annoyed that it took so long to get an oil change on my car. I'm grateful that I can celebrate with another friend for her good news.
And I'm grateful that I had a chance to know a really good guy. Bye, Pete.