Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Private War: Ready Like a Soldier

Through most of this battle with cancer, the main focus has been to hang onto and grow the creative part of my life as a graphic artist and electronic musician. Each day I come to the computer or the keyboard is another day that I get to to go up against the biggest threat to my life and my purpose. Everyday I can put in even a few moments of creative time, is a chance to be embrace life. On days when it is physically impossible to be up and around, I envision a creative project like what I will do to make a beat, or design a graphic. Like a terrorist strike, cancer invades and threatens every aspect of what is your essential self. Like a soldier, you have to meet the threat, contain it, and destroy the invasion for good.

In these series of brutal battles fought on the landscape of my mortal coil, I had overwhelming support from my family and friends. Sure, there were the fair-weather friends who decided it wasn't convenient to interact with me anymore. Maybe I wasn't too much fun, ya know? But the strategic support my loved ones provided armed me for the conflict. As the days merged into weeks, then months, the unfailing support and love keep coming. While I am most decidedly not the same person I was 6 months ago, I have gained a new appreciation for life and for the pure joy of being alive and being thankful. Get up, go out to engage the threat and beat it back each and everyday. Gather resources for your fight – knowledge is critical.

Just one thing though — sometimes the soldier is cut off from his company and must fight completely independent and away from support. No one can hold your hand 24 hours a day. In essence battling cancer is a private war. You are invaded by the cancer and it is a life changing invasion. You will or will emerge victorious based on a number of physical and mental factors. No one can win this private war in some of the mental battlefields it will be fought in. You are the only one who can face these hand to hand fights as they come. Faced with being taken off the planet can do wonders for being skittish before the big battle.

The various physical challenges and side effects faced each day must be brought into the big picture of survival. Sure, your chemotherapy is making you sick, your hair is falling out, your weight is plummeting, you're not able to work, your daily routines shredded. Sometimes it is an hourly struggle to face the side effects of the cancer drugs and a daily cross to bear. This is the private war, this is where the war will be won. Only you can summon what it takes to defeat the negative mental state this disease brings. Your family and loved ones can give you all the support in the world, but you have to face this fight in a lot of little ways on your own. If you are not ready to do this, if you are not ready to command yourself on the battlefield, you better learn fast.

Each day you handle some detail of your battle, your treatment and recovery, you are winning. Not only do you give yourself an edge, you brighten the spirits of those around you. You can't learn to be fearless from anyone but yourself. Sometimes, you have to go into battle with fear, just get up and go. Survivorship is the goal in your private war. You will come out on the other side and have a new appreciation for living and those you love. Until then, be ready like a soldier.

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