Update 26: Envy (and an LCAM FUNdraiser announcement!)
There’s a thing that happened when I got diagnosed with cancer that I only recently stopped doing. I compared myself to other cancer patients. It was a way to grasp for straws when I was standing in quicksand.
I didn’t spend a ton of time thinking about the people I was faring better than (nor, strangely, did I focus on healthy people who weren’t diagnosed at all). Instead, I often wondered and wished I could be as lucky as some others that seemed to be doing better than me: patients who had gotten diagnosed at slightly earlier “curable” stages, fellow “incurable” patients who responded so well they took extended (permanent?) treatment breaks, fellow “incurables” that somehow became eligible for experimental, but potentially “curative” surgery. How could I be like them? I was envious. I definitely envied. If you looked very closely, my dark brown eyes had specks of green.
What being in this for almost 9 years now has shown me is that I’m an idiot (and also a slow learner). I’ve been here so much longer than expected that I’ve seen many of those I envied take a turn for the worse, often much worse, while I still somehow chug along here (Update #26 my scans are still stable, knock wood).
I used to think envy was bad because it’s just “not nice.” The bible says not to do it. G-d, like my 11th grade Spanish teacher, just wanted me to keep my eyes on my own damn paper. What I’ve now come to appreciate is that envy is just simply a tremendous waste of fucking time. The other student’s paper might have the wrong answers, the other patient who is doing better than me today might be doing worse tomorrow. Come to think of it, G-d doesn’t seem particularly concerned about “niceness” in the bible. Maybe G-d is just an efficiency expert?
Basically, I’m not here to lecture anyone on how to be a better person – my credentials are questionable there anyhow. But I am getting to be something of an expert in how to be a “terminal” cancer patient, and my advice is this: keep your eyes on your own damn paper, you may be fare better than you expect! If you catch yourself feeling envious of other patients, try to remind yourself the future is unknown for us all and try to focus on your own wild and precious life.
Postscript: As we approach November, Lung Cancer Awareness Month, I am gearing up to host my annual fundraiser. Lung cancer kills more patients worldwide than the next 3 most common cancers (breast, colon and prostate) combined. Unfortunately, due to the unfair and inaccurate stigma around lung cancer, it receives a paltry fraction of the funding most other cancers receive.
For my fundraiser, I will be teaching an art class, appropriate for all levels. We will be decorating small paper tiles which we will make into beautiful corner bookmarks that can be presented on a greeting card. You can see a few examples here and here. These are just a couple of examples, but the sky is the limit in terms of how to tangle and decorate these. I will try to create some others before the class to show you alternative options (I’m thinking monograms, monotangles, holiday themes, bday theme, etc.). I picked this project because I think these bookmarks make thoughtful card/gifts that you may choose to make for the holiday season.
The class will be held via Zoom from 10:30am-12pm PT on November 19 (if you cannot attend live, I can share a recording). If you would like to sign up, please go here. All the supplies needed for this class are detailed in the signup form. If you are interested in this class, but cannot attend live, please still sign up. I will share the recording with everyone who has signed up.
If you’re not interested in the class, but would still like to donate to support lung cancer research, please go here. Any and all donations are very much appreciated – thank you!