A person pushing a boulder up a hill

Keep Pushing that Boulder

Last updated: September 2022

Someone asked me what having lung cancer felt like. I couldn’t really find the most accurate words to encompass the physical aspect of the cancer itself as well as the mental and emotional capacity of having cancer. I can tell you about the joint paint, I can tell you some days are better than others, I can complain about not having any energy. I can speak to the depression and anxiety, but I would be talking all day.

Pushing the same boulder up the same hill

I often relate to the story of the Greek Mythologist, Sisyphus, and the word Sisyphean which means you keep doing the same thing over and over and never really complete the task. If you have heard the “c” word then you can absolutely relate to this. The story of pushing the boulder up the hill over and over again every single day.

That boulder is big and heavy for us, but we keep pushing. We keep going. We can’t think about that boulder just rolling back down and starting all over tomorrow. We have to take each push day by day and literally inch by inch. You are doing the best you can right now. Celebrate that. Don’t think about the pushing that you might have to do tomorrow or next week but focus on the push that is in front of you right now this very second.

Pushing and fighting become exhausting

It’s so difficult to stand under that big boulder of cancer day after day. You keep pushing harder than everyone else and get absolutely nowhere. You feel like you are working harder than anyone just to survive while your friends are passing you by chasing dreams and living their life. You push and push and push only to start over again tomorrow. Surely it will get easier. Surely this will end soon. Surely, I won’t have to keep pushing so hard just to survive. The truth is - yes, you do. However, the push ebbs and flows. The push might seem easier today and harder than ever before tomorrow. Somehow the strength we need to get through right now shows up for us. The push we need for one more trip to the doctor, one more trip to the chemo room, one more needle stick, one more trip to the hospital, one more victory marked off the list shows up for us.

We can’t quit pushing. If we quit pushing, that big boulder is going to plow over the top of us. It’s going to be painful and likely fatal. Therefore, there’s no option. There’s no option to merely quit pushing. The strength within yourself to keep going is much greater on this journey than you ever thought you had or were capable of having.

I know I can't give up

People tell me how brave and courageous I am, but to me, those are words to describe someone that signed up for something. Those are words to describe our military men and women that sign on the line for their country. I didn’t sign up for this. I don’t know of anyone that did. However, I don’t feel as though those words apply to me. I am not brave or courageous - I just know that I can’t give up on myself.

We can’t give up on ourselves. We have to hold tight to hope that we have a drug awaiting us when ours’ fail. We have to keep raising awareness. We have to keep fighting the stigma. We have to keep the dialogue with our political leaders. We have to keep encouraging research. We have to keep fighting to be heard. We have to keep telling people that our bodies are literally murdering us and we did absolutely nothing, but have lungs and breathe. Not only does the fight alone involve pushing that boulder up the hill, but we have all of these other things on our back while we push.

The push for hope

It’s the push to hope too. We hope for more runway. We hope to remain stable. We hope to just feel good today. We hope to not sleep the day away. We hope to feel like going to our family functions. We hope to feel like eating food and nourishing our bodies. We hope to be able to take that vacation. We hope to be able to see our kids grow up. We hope to be able to continue working at our dream job. We hope to continue living our lives. It’s the push to hope for a cure.
That boulder is heavy with all the things. We keep pushing not because we are being punished for anything, but because we aren’t giving up on ourselves.

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