More than once I have been prayed for/spoken about/mentioned as being “ravaged” by cancer. The person describing me as “ravaged” is, without fail, kind and well-meaning. Very kind and well-meaning. But each time it happens it makes me think, “am I being ravaged by cancer? I don’t feel ravaged…” In fact, I have never felt ravaged by cancer. Aside from the original lump seven years ago, I have never felt any effects of the cancer at all–only the effects of the aggressive treatments it demands.
I have also had kind, well-meaning, wonderful folks ask me if I am in remission. The thinking goes, I believe, that if I am not currently dying, then I must be in remission. Not in remission. Rats. It is often hard to explain how it can be that I have a job, do the laundry, mow the lawn, play word games on Facebook, and shop at IKEA if, indeed, I still have cancer. Fighting it should be a full time job, the mindset goes, and those walking about like the rest of us must then be in remission.
It’s an admittedly confusing state, this place between ravaged and remission.
Mark read an article years ago in which the author and his wife described her cancer as the dragon. The dragon who lay curled within her, ready to consume at any moment, but somehow strangely stupefied or asleep. He might fully awaken at any moment, but for the most part they were able to keep the dragon woozy. There were times he might stir in his sleep. Time to change meds. Times the dragon might rouse a bit more. Ablate the liver. But for well over a decade they were able to keep the dragon pacified and live their lives.
This is where we live–the place between ravaged and remission. It is the internal dragon’s lair. A place around which we tiptoe and whisper, going about our lives hoping not to make too much noise as to wake him. No sudden movements. No risky business. No moves out of state or going against the recommendation of our trusted oncologist. Early bedtimes and regular walks. Family photos and the eating of vegetables. It is a confusing place, but we have been grateful to live there for the years that we have–and hope to live there many, many more.
Each prayer that is said for us keeps us calm. Thank you. Each inquiry that you make of us lets us know your love. We are so grateful. You are our knights and ladies in this strange skirmish of ours. In this confusing dragon’s lair between ravaged and remission.
5 replies on “between ravaged and remission–don’t wake the dragon”
So well and beautifully said. I find I am better off if I remember that people can’t understand roads that the Lord has not led them down. That helps me when people say stupid things without meaning to!
Keeping you before God’s throne of grace daily in our prayers!
And don’t we all really have a dragon within because we really don’t know from day to day do we? Such silly people we are to think we know. And that’s the beauty of learning to lean.
Thanks for this, Tash. You are gracious and thoughtful and wise.
Another great metaphor that can give your faithful readers a hair of a sense of what it is for you to live with cancer. This one and the piano hanging over your head are most memorable for me, which has been the one I trot out when people ask me how you’re doing. Now I can add the drowsy dragon.
Actually, The Drowsy Dragon sounds like the title of a great potential book for children on living with cancer. Anyone?