Sunday, September 28, 2008

It's difficult to talk right now

If you've read the early posts on my blog, you'll know that my husband Craig was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma (NHL) last November. After a three-month course of chemotherapy and some rather scary ups and downs, he was told he was clear of cancerous activity.
Unfortunately, high grade NHL is notorious for relapsing, and a couple of days ago, it was confirmed that the lymphoma had returned. I'm sure I don't need to emphasise what a harsh blow this has been for Craig. He was only just beginning to feel he'd recovered from the effects of the chemo - chronic exhaustion, physical weakness, loss of taste, loss of hair. (The weakness, or numbness, was especially noticeable in his hands: he'd celebrated being able to use a pair of scissors again only a couple of weeks ago.) Now he faces having to go through that all over again.
I find it difficult to talk about Craig's illness, especially to those who are close to us. It's not that I want to pretend it's not happening, but I also want life to go on as normal, as far as possible. One thing cancer teaches you is that life can change, in all kinds of ways, in the blink of an eye. You have to seize the good moments and savour them. Cancer is often described as a rollercoaster and although that sounds like a cliche, it's true. There are points at which you trundle along a bit of level track, but you never know when the rollercoaster will turn a corner and start hurtling down into a bad moment.
On the other hand, I find it difficult to think of anything else. It's hard to have a conversation about ordinary things - even to leave comments on people's blogs, which normally I love to do - because your mind is still trying to make sense of this enormous issue. Anything else seems a bit frivolous. It's a bit like when someone engages you in conversation in the playground just as your child is about to do something potentially dangerous.
However, I did talk to Philip, because we had been having an email conversation about San Francisco. Craig and I had been planning to visit SF next year, and Philip had been sending me wonderful suggestions as to where we might stay. I didn't want him to think I was being rude or unenthusiastic, so I explained that, all of a sudden, we weren't able to plan anything.
I found it surprisingly easy to talk to someone I'd never met, perhaps because I didn't have to talk, I could write. He said in his reply: "Please unburden to me anytime. That is what Blotanical friends halfway across the world are for! It does help."
So, Blotanical friends, I'm now unburdening to you all. Please forgive me if I've seemed uninterested recently in your wonderful posts and pictures, or failed to appear suitably appreciative. I absolutely love reading your blogs and I'm sure they'll continue to be a source of enjoyment and a welcome distraction for us both as we take our rollercoaster ride through the next few months.