Hanging In There
Last updated: May 2022
I focus on the positive. It's just how I'm wired. It isn't a forced action; it just comes naturally.
How are you doing?
I realized a while ago that I only share the positives and good news, or no news at all, with acquaintances and casual friends.
When I see these people, they always ask, “How are you doing?” I have a standard answer when I don't feel like giving too many details or sharing any negative test results or feelings. I simply say, “I'm hanging in there.” People accept that answer. That way I don't have to go into details about my life with stage IV lung cancer and my failed, current or future treatment plans. I didn't give information they really didn't need to hear and it doesn't give them any information for follow-up questions. It's a nice short conversation and I don't have to hash out the details of something in the past that I put behind me.
The art of not engaging in conversations
I've been trained in the art of not engaging in conversation. When you're a letter carrier, time is of the essence. You are constantly working against the setting sun and the clock. Speaking with customers is part of the job. But you learn fast how to talk just enough to get to the point and get on your way.
Another plus in this situation, for me, is I don't dwell on the bad moments and feelings. So my initial reaction is to say how I'm doing at that particular moment. More than half the time I'm doing well, so it's not too far off to reply with, “I'm hanging in there.”
It's not always "peace, lungs and happiness"
I tend to blog and post a lot of good news and not so much of the day to day bad stuff on social media. I've been fortunate enough to not have too many setbacks or negative experiences with lung cancer and my treatments. Compared to others, my issues and treatment experiences have been simple and easy obstacles to overcome and recover from. I haven't been as lucky with other diagnoses and medical issues.
Just because I don't share it with the public, it doesn't mean it's all “peace, lungs and happiness” all the time. It doesn't mean it doesn't happen. It means I have experienced things and have thoughts that most people without stage IV lung cancer or a terminal illness will never understand. It means, after more than three years, I'm still processing my thoughts and feelings and I still don't know how to describe them to those without stage IV lung cancer.
For now, I'm focusing on the positives
The only contact I have with my out of town family and friends is through social media. So their only knowledge of my lung cancer treatments and experiences are through social media and the blog posts I share. I don't mean to keep them in the dark. I don't post about the negatives because I don't focus on the negatives on a daily basis.
I'm sure, over time, I will learn to better process and communicate the negative thoughts and aspects of lung cancer. But I'm going to keep positive and hanging in there as long as possible.
Is there a lung cancer metaphor that bothers you the most?
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