Saturday, November 18, 2006

Not alone

So I am in Chicago at a conference that I usually attend every year. Although the conference is not overly intriguing, I usually go in order to catch up with friends from internship days and to visit a city. On this trip, we were also able to schedule visits with some college friends of mine.

Coming to the conference, I was a little hesitant because most of the people I wanted to see, I had not seen in about 2 years. I am not great about keeping in touch with these folks, but when we get together, it is fantastic. I was apprehensive because as far as I knew none of them knew about my diagnosis. I was dreading the awkwardness of the conversation. I anticipated it would go something like this:

"How have you been?"

"Great."

"What's knew with you?"

"Well, I was diagnosed with leukemia."

Talk about a conversation stopper. I did not want this to be the first thing we talked about, but I did want to tell these people about this important change in my life. It just felt weird that I had this burden of a topic to discuss.

Within an hour of starting the conference, I ran into one of my friends, Deb, I was hoping to see. Here it was, the awkward moment. When I asked her how she was doing, she told me she had a tough year and was diagnosed with colon cancer. I was astounded. Here I was worried about disclosing my own cancer diagnosis, and she was dealing with the same issue. I told her that I too had been diagnosed with cancer this year and we both kind of stared at each other in disbelief. We had both joined a club we did not want to belong to in the first place. She told me about her surgeries and chemotherapy, but that she was also in remission. I was relieved to hear her progress, but felt guilty about how relatively easy my treatment had been in comparison.

While hearing Deb's news was a huge shock for me, it also paved the way for a smoother transition with my other friends who did not know. Since Deb and I are both psychologists dealing with cancer, we both had similar notions. How do we make our experiences helpful to others? I tossed around the idea of doing a book together with her or something to help other younger people who are diagnosed with cancer.

Needless to say, although cancer can make you feel very isolated, sharing this news with Deb made me feel much closer to her. I said to her "isn't it annoying that we are even having this conversation?" Oh well, you play with the hand you are dealt and I hope we can make a royal flush out of this one.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Now I understand more and have many of the same feelings when we run into new people we haven't seen in awhile. "So how are you and your family?" Where to start. Sometimes we say we are all fine. We are all trying to be fine, and we are.

Papa Bob said...

A book would be fantastic. You are not only a great writer but have such an easy way of making things clearer. Hey, life's not what we expect some of the time, but we make the best of it and learn to "cope"... at least that's what I've been told! I've also been told there are "better days ahead" and we must think positively. It's a struggle when things don't work out and as Rabbi Harold Kushner says in his newest book: Understanding Life's Disappointments"... When dreams are shattered we have to pick ourselves up and start a new dream".
Here's to the "NEW DREAM" and a new start! With everyone's concern, hard work and prayer may the life ahead of us bring peace and contentment. This is for you and anyone else who reads this blog..............

Annie said...

Hi Jon
Loved this entry - how true about it being a conversation stopper!

A book would be a wonderful idea, and, as "Papa Bob" above says -you write really well. And by doing a book, especially for the younger people, you might be able to help someone else with their 'new dream'.
Go for it!
Take care
Annie
Steven's mom

Lori said...

Hey Jon,

I've felt the same way when seeing people I haven't caught up with in a while. Its always awkward, but everyone is supportive so it usually makes the conversation a little easier. Good to hear you are doing well!

Lori

Sue said...

Hi Jon. I haven't wrote to you in a while so I would like to catch up with ya. I went back and read all of the blogs I've missed in the past couple of months and I am happy (yet not surprised) about your remarkable blood levels. Even though I've wrote to you many times before about my very deep (almost phenomenal)belief about the positive outcome of your blood tests, I am further amazed that even though I expected this EARLY radical outcome it relieves me to know that my intuition was not a mere distortion of what could have been but my true belief of what was destined to be. I will continue to, wholeheartedly keep this faith with me even now when your doing so well with the hope that you will continue to prosper, watch your children grow, your business flourish, grow old with your wife and to someday,
"spoil the crap out of your grandchildren!!!!"

This, I believe is your destiny.

Sue