Gerrad’s blog: Playing Whac-A-Mole with my brain

April 15, 2015

By Gerrad Downs


March 2015

I write this while sitting in a waiting room at the hospital. I am here because in a week I will be starting the radiation treatment that was mentioned as a possibility of my treatment back in 2011 when I was first diagnosed. I use the term “possibility” intentionally, because as doctors and nurses and other staff talk to patients, nothing is ever set in stone until it is. This is a cautionary tale.

Back in 2011, I was told about all the potential treatments: surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, waiting, more chemotherapy, and more surgery. These things were thrown around like they were ideas, things that could happen in the future. At the time, they were only theoretical to me. I had surgery, I did a year of chemo, I did a year and a half of living a normal life, and then my tumor became active again. Now it was was another year of chemotherapy, the same style of treatment I had before that had seemed to work rather well.

As I was coming into the last months of my current treatment cycle, my team started to talk more and more about the possibility of doing something more because they were not seeing what they wanted to on my scans. I had two different spots in the last 14 months pop up and disappear, like a game of whack-a-mole, except instead of a giant fluffy unicorn, the prize is more advanced treatment — Yay!

So, now it is time to move onto the next treatment plan, one of those theoretical things is now all of a sudden very real, very distracting, and very scary. I know what I signed up for, I knew this was eventually going to happen, but now I’ve gone from a year of hoping that I won’t have to do this, to “oh crap, I have to do this.”

There is an overwhelming sense of a loss of control in what is happening to me, but then I realize I never had that much control in the first place. That, dear readers, is the unfair part of being human: It only takes something big to shake us up to realize how little control we have in our lives. When that feeling passes, we can easily fall back into our lives and go on like nothing happened, because it is safe, and comfortable, and easy.

I am so grateful that I was able to spend the better part of two years feeling safe and secure before cancer shook my world up again, but I’m more grateful for being reminded to not take those things for granted.

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