Friday, December 22, 2006

Today, I Don't Want to Know

Warning: This is not a warm and fuzzy holiday posting, but rather a grim and sad one. So, don't read on just now if you are not in the mood.

Today, I don't want to know that I have been diagnosed with terminal cancer. I began this blog last August by saying:

If you had only six months or a year to live, would you want to know? What would you do with the information? Would it make a difference in how you lived your life?

My answer then, and in the days since I framed the question, has been "Yes. I would want to know, I'm glad I do know." As the months have unfolded and I have felt well, returned to work, not gotten quickly and intensely ill, continued to recover from the major surgery of last May, and had other experiences, the immediacy of my diagnosis has somewhat faded. And while all of this has happened, I haven't had a day when I thought that I wouldn't want to know. I've seen it all as an opportunity to live more fully, and to be in the moment, savoring the life I have.

Today, however, I wish I didn't know. Suddenly, with Christmas three days away, I just don't want to be thinking that this could be my last Christmas, and have that added weight to the holidays. I loved Christmas as a child, and there is much about it that I continue to love. But with the passing of years, it has come to carry a lot of emotional baggage. To that baggage, I really don't want to add an awareness of my mortality, thank you very much.

Two weekends ago, I baked cookies for two days with good friends who came to roll, and dust, and shape the cookies I like to make just for Christmas. And in baking, we talked, sometimes about heavy and serious things, sometimes about light and fun things. One conversation, with my friend Judy, who is a United Church of Christ minister like Patty, was about the difference between getting a terminal diagnosis (like gallbladder cancer) and getting a serious diagnosis (like a cancer that's more treatable and has a good success rate from treatment). I don't want to be comparing degrees of "badness" for respective diagnoses with anyone, but I can feel the difference of a diagnosis that one expects to recover from, and one where nothing short of a miracle would prolong one's life. (That's me, and I am definitely in the market for one of those miracles.) And perhaps I can most accurately say that I know I would feel different if diagnosed with a treatable illness. The terminal diagnosis makes me wonder if I will be here next Christmas, or, if I am alive, I'll be well enough to bake cookies again for a weekend.

I wish I didn't have cancer. I wish it weren't gallbladder cancer, with its poor prognosis. I wish I could get treated and expect to go on living my life. I wish I didn't know that the cancer is in my body, and that this could just be my last Christmas. I wish I could just enjoy the anticipation and laughter of my children as Christmas approaches, and not worry about next year. Today, I don't want to know.


Anonymous said...

Holding you in the light of love
At this darkest time of year
In the fullness of your LIFE
During this dark night of the soul.
Light and dark
Light and dark
Cries and whispers,
Sorrow and joy

Mindy said...

I've met you several times--am a friend of Bev's in Wooster. Your blog has moved me and I need to say how I appreciate your open and honest expressions of your feelings. Many blessings to you and your family.

Sean Spence said...

Hey Lynne,

I want to wish you a happy holiday. Your blog means a lot to folks out there, and reaches a whole new group every day through I honestly believe that the time we take to communicate our lives is having a big effect on people around the world. You are making a difference.

All the best (however we need to define that) today and every day.

- sean

Sean Spence

Jeanne said...

Thank you for this very honest post. I hope you don't mind if I link to it from my blog.

I think the holidays are especially hard for those of us who fear we won't be here for the next ones, or if we are, won't be well enough to celebrate them in the ways we usually do.