Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Jumping Through Hopes

We are all familiar with the circus act where an animal, usually a small dog, is trained to jump through hoops held by the circus master.  The hoops vary in size and in placement and as the circus master waves the hoops, tosses them in air or sets them on fire, the dog bravely and enthusiastically jumps through each one.  What makes the dog do this?  Daily training and the anticipation of a delicious reward at the end of a jump and perhaps a bigger reward at the end of the show.

Having cancer, I have often felt like a circus dog, only instead of jumping through hoops, I am jumping through hopes.  At the beginning of the cancer show, the hopes are large but unlike in the circus, not so easy to jump through. As time goes by they get smaller and more specific and the likelihood of making it through is lesser.  Still others are set aflame and the danger of jumping through is palpable and the risk of not making it without being burnt or scarred is great.  Among the hopes one has to jump:
  • I hope it's not cancer
  • I hope it's early stages
  • I hope they get it all in surgery
  • I hope it hasn't spread
  • I hope chemo isn't too bad
  • I hope I don't lose my hair
  • I hope they got it all
  • I hope I am in remission
  • I hope it doesn't recur

There are other hopes, of course.  New ones appear on a daily basis (I hope I’m well enough today to shop for groceries, I hope the people coming to visit do not notice I’ve been unable to clean the house, I hope my insurance covers the next treatment, and so on….) and each one brings its own challenge and incentive.

Each jump gets me closer to my reward.  If I successfully jump through these hopes there is a 30% chance of living through the next two years and if I make it through that hope, there is a 20% chance I can go another 3 years with or without recurrence. 

Frankly there are days where this is not much of an incentive and garnering the energy to jump through yet another hope seems impossible.   

And yet, like a trained dog, I jump.  I jump because I am trained to believe that modern medicine and faith and sheer will can rid me of this cancer.  I jump because the fear of not jumping outweighs any concern I might have of jumping and failing.  I jump because they are not just my hopes, but the hopes of everyone I love and who loves me and the thought that I might let them down by refusing to jump is just too much of a burden to bear.  I jump because I have to.

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