Sunday, May 23, 2010

Dealing with fear and postponing the bucket list

I am tired...and I haven't even started treatments yet. I start tomorrow....9 weeks, 5 days a week.

Once or twice I have had nightmares where I was in a hospital setting and they were x-raying me. The prostate cancer was gone, but it had moved to my lungs despite their efforts. It was so real...I felt hot in the dream, and when I woke up I was having a hot flash. I really believe consciously that the treatment is what I need...but apparently, deep within, there are doubts.

More than ever I am believing that cancer is not something you can fight on your own. Even when you are working hard to have positive conscious thoughts, the unconscious is scared and lets you know it. Thankfully, those moments have been fewer and fewer lately. The prayers and support I am receiving from family and friends is very meaningful and helpful...because I know I couldn't have made it this far without it.

You see, prostate cancer was my worst nightmare come true. I watched my father when he had it. I was in my last year of graduate school at the time and members of my family wanted me to quit school and move home. I felt bad about not doing it, but delaying my graduation and delaying getting into the worforce did not seem to be a good choice at the time. I was very torn. When he got bad, they called me and told me to come home. When I got back here, my dad was in the final stages of prostate cancer, my mother was laid up at home with something resembling pneumonia and my sibling was in another hospital across town with a supposed case of prostatitis. It was a mess.

I sat with my Dad in the hospital during those last days. The things I saw them do to him were awful and made me wince. I remember sitting there and thinking to myself, "I will never allow this to get so bad with me. I would rather drive off a cliff than go through this."

That was in November of 1979. Almost a year earlier (December 1978), it was discovered that he had advanced Stage 4 prostate cancer by a MD that had pronounced him perfectly healthy 6 months before that. He missed it. That cost my father his life. Back then however, there were no PSA tests or most of the imagery that we have now. All they had was the digital exam. By the time the MD felt something with his finger, it was already too late and had spread to his bones.

I am grateful that technology kept that from happening to me, but there are times when I wonder. You know...the "What ifs." What if the treatment they are giving me doesn't work? What if its hormone resistant? What if it has spread? Those insidious "What ifs." Despite that, I have remained pretty positive most of the time....and I have had no desire to locate a cliff somewhere.

No matter how positive you try to matter how you try to lower your level of stress so your body can heal...they pop up on their own every once in a while. You are laying there in your bed resting, praying and thinking good thoughts...but those "What ifs" are the monster in the closet or under your bed. So I ask God to give me a sense of peace.

Then, I feel that twinge of pain in my lower back and I begin to wonder "Is that it?" "Is it growing?" Doubt tries to wiggle its way into your spirit. Sometimes it is made easier by being so tired. You don't want to upset anyone around you so you keep it to yourself most of the time...but at the same time you need their love and support to get through. Lots of conflicting feelings are flying around.

But I guess that is what it means to be human. We are often walking contradictions and God understands that we can't become who we were meant to be on our own. I remember Dr. Power at Perkins talking about the Jewish understanding of where we came from: God saw that the creation was good and he spat on the ground and formed a lump of clay from the dirt of the earth and formed into a thing with two arms and two legs. After God was happy with what was formed, he took that little clay man and the breathed upon it and the figure became a nephish...a Hebrew word commonly translated as "a living being" or "a living soul."

God put everything into us that makes us who we are. By breathing upon us, we are inspired by the spirit of God. We are of God and we cannot become who we are meant to be without being in relationship with God. That is what it means to be my understanding. You can argue details and stories and evolution until you are blue in the face. The point is that we are not here by accident. We are meant to be here...with contradictions, conflicting feelings and what have you.

Thank you for being there for me. Please think of me as I start these treatments and pray that I find peace while dealing with it. I am not ready for a bucket list yet.


  1. Hello Mr. Jackson, I just wanted to say hello and tell you that you are in my thoughts and prayers. Your family meant so much to me growing up and I hope the best for you and for them. Take care.

    Adrienne Pedrotti

  2. Thank you, Adrienne. Your thoughts and prayers are very much appreciated! :-)