two thoughts

I can finally rest. It’s taken over a year without alcohol, and many months now without opioids, to get to the point where I can actually fall asleep and get a decent night’s rest, unassisted.

Alcohol was my sleep crutch for many years, and then opioids came along and helped me through the worst battle of my life. I’m thankful that the cancer is gone, and that I did not have to fight an opioid addiction, but I do miss that medically-induced sleep. Not anymore. At the risk of jinxing myself, I can finally sleep.

I recently met another cancer patient whose disease is very similar to mine, and who is under the care of the same medical team that saved my life. I’ll call him, John, but that’s not his real name. He’s about half-way through his treatment plan, which is nearly identical to mine. His condition, however, seems to be quite less severe than mine at the same stage.

How is this fair, I thought. Why is he thriving, when I was in such bad shape at the same point in treatment, and heading towards even more turbulence? Shouldn’t he suffer like I did? These thoughts swirled through my head as we met over coffee.

I know that everyone’s journey is different, their experience is unique. The treatment for cancer in the breast is nothing like the throat’s. But I had never been face-to-face with it — here’s John with such a similar disease, yet such a different status to update.

I think that I wanted desperately for him, for anyone, to know what I went through. Yes you may have read what I’ve written, or heard other people’s stories. But you don’t know-know. And yet, here I was, having coffee with John, ostensibly to offer my support and navigation, and it seems like his path was far smoother than mine.

John’s journey, nor anyone else’s, doesn’t make my experience any more or less profound. Once I realized that, I am now genuinely happy that John isn’t going through what I did, that hopefully he won’t have the same emotional scars as me. And yes I want to commiserate about shared trauma. I can have those two thoughts at the same time.

On to the next milestone, the first post-cancer Christmas.