October 24th, 2017

Late posting today

I’m late posting today because I was phoned by a friend whose husband (also a friend of mine) just got a “very bad” cancer diagnosis. We talked about it over lunch.

Is there any “good” cancer diagnosis? No. And yet some really are much better and some really are much worse. This is one of the “worse” ones.

Getting older requires that we deal more and more often with grim announcements like this. I tried to comfort my friend as best I could, but there’s no way around it: it’s devastating news for her and for him, and upsetting news to me too.

Spring and Fall
By Gerard Manley Hopkins

to a young child

Márgarét, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

That’s a photo I took a couple of weeks ago, up north.

9 Responses to “Late posting today”

  1. kevino Says:

    I’m sorry about your friend. It’s always difficult to hear the specifics of a diagnosis like that, but it is better to know. Cancer is tough because we may have it for some time without knowing it. Only when we get symptoms do we find out that it’s there, and then it can be too late.

    You’re also right about a diagnosis being not-so-bad. My family and friends have had those. The doctors tell you that you have an 80% or 90% chance of successful treatment. Great. But that still leaves 10% to 20% chance of death. We’re all mortal.

    The other thing that’s better now than it used to be is that we can talk about it and help each other. People with cancer used to lose friends immediately. People wouldn’t visit them or talk to them — as if cancer were contagious.

    I’m sure someone with your experience is a great help at a time like this.

  2. charles Says:

    Best of luck to your friend Neo.

    And, yes, talk about it over lunch; Kevino is right it used to be friends would “drop out.” But, I’d say it was because folks were so afraid of saying/doing the wrong thing that they ended up saying and doing nothing.

    Which in some regards is worse than saying/doing the wrong thing – folks think that others don’t care because they didn’t say or do anything.

    Again, best of luck!

  3. parker Says:

    Good wishes for your friend. Cancer is a terrible thing, but the medical system deals with it better than ever. Thank goodness our daughter has now been breast cancer free for 7 years.

    Nice photo btw.

  4. Mrs Whatsit Says:

    I’m so sorry for your friend and for you. Cancer has been just clobbering my extended family this year. Two diagnoses of the worst kind late last year, one early this summer, all three deaths already this year, and one more lingering, diagnosed a while back and still hovering uncertainly between hope and, well, the opposite thereof. There are other ways to die, of course, but cancer is the one that seems to have drawn a bead on us for now.

    Yes, it’s our age, and the Margaret poem is both instructive and comforting. Is it also our age that comfort more and more often comes in the form of poetry?

  5. MollyNH Says:

    There are new treatments out there, friend of a friend got a lung cancer diagnosis & initially was told a year.but was given one of those *new * medications & she is in remission with shrinkage of the tumor.
    Then there is jimmy Carter who was all but buried when he announced prostate cancer but he looked good to me when seen on TV, his mind is pretty good too, his politics not so much. Best of luck for your friend Neosho

  6. MollyNH Says:

    Neo, silly spell check

  7. bdh Says:

    Blessings to you and your two friends as you all come to this new reality. It is the love of friends and family, and the skill of care that will be remembered and appreciated. To be human is to suffer at times, but it is also to experience great love in difficult times, and to newly appreciate life’s small joys and pleasures.

  8. David Swadell Says:

    As a stage 3b prostate cancer survivor, I imagine that a “bad” diagnosis is one that comes so late in the progression of the disease that death is but days or weeks away.

    A few years ago I had two friends receive terminal diagnoses in the same month. One passed away a few weeks later. The other in less than a week.

    Both had led spiritually-centered lives and were ready for the next adventure without a lot of unfinished business. As with my own father, killed by cancer after a long battle, they were at peace with their own impending deaths.

    The hard part was for the survivors — especially the spouses who had their beloved partners ripped away from them much too fast to even begin to come to terms with the loss. One of them is among my closest friends. He was emotionally devastated.

    Without his wife’s deep faith as she savored her final days, without her blessing for him and gratitude for all they had shared, without forgiveness for all wrongs both real and imagined, and without the support of a community of friends who loved them both and stood by him both during and after, Alice’s passing might have been an occasion for unrelenting misery unleavened by joy.

  9. The Other Chuck Says:

    Tell you friend there are cases, perhaps rare exceptions but nevertheless they do happen, of people surviving what they thought was a death sentence. My older brother is one of those. Nearly 40 years ago he was diagnosed with stage 4 testicular cancer. It had spread into lymph nodes and surrounding tissue. He is a person of deep faith and initially accepted that he was not going to make it. God was calling him home. But with family support, a positive attitude, excellent medical treatment, and what he later attributed to the removal of stress in his life, he survived and remains cancer free.

    That is not to say one should give out false hope, only that it’s not over until it’s over.

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