A Hansen observance…

lightning rainbow

Four years ago today i returned to the surname Hansen after many years away from it (as noted on this blog’s About page). Thoughts about the significance of that change formed a large part of the rationale for starting this project.

As chance would have it, less than three months later, i was diagnosed with cancer.  In a longer post a year later i discussed why i wasn’t making that a prominent blog topic.

Anniversaries have a way of spurring us to take stock, to big-picture our everyday experiences. This one is compelling me to ruminate about all that has happened since then. About the way the passage of time can make the exact same event seem like yesterday and like ages ago.

Often i think about how the circumstances i’m dealing with affect others in my life. Coincidentally enough, i recently came across two articles that refer to the experiences of the health-challenged person’s friends and family, both authored by the patients themselves.

The first, by memoirist Cory Taylor, answered questions she was often asked by others in response to learning of her illness. It struck me that my post (linked above) did a little of the same thing — and answered a few of the same questions she did. She noted that the questions she was fielding were all ones she’d already been posing to herself — and that they hadn’t changed over the ten years between her diagnosis and when she wrote the essay.

The second article, by screenwriter Josh Friedman, discussed the role of bravery in dealing with a difficult diagnosis, and whether it’s helpful for well-meaning friends and family to encourage it or compliment the patient for it. His answer to that, in my condensed paraphrase, is this:  While appreciated as coming from the best intentions, emphasizing courage can be unhelpful to the degree it prevents well wishers from empathizing with weakness — and to the degree it implicitly though unintentionally suggests that if the illness “wins” it means we patients weren’t brave enough or didn’t fight hard enough.

In my case, i am no longer having to fight the c-word itself; it was successfully defeated for now as far as the docs can tell. There are, however, ongoing battles related to the fall-out from various past treatments. Argh – i keep catching myself using warrior language; much as i might favor a fresher framework, it’s very hard to get away from.

It’s also true that almost everybody is struggling with something — something no less (and maybe more) difficult just because it’s not out in the open — whether physical, emotional, relational or all of the above.

So let me use this date-marker to remind myself and others that what helps us most to not give up is knowing there are others who know where we are. (By the way, that goes for not giving up on dreams as well as not giving up in our struggles.)

And now that, according to the calendar, this blog is exiting its toddler phase, i want to express my gratitude to who all who’ve dropped by here and have hopefully found something of interest.

Long overdue…

Hello readers!

I hope this is the last time that i’ll have to express regrets for a long absence.

In my inaugural Ruminations post of December 2014, i explained my reasons for not making the cancer diagnosis a major topic of the blog. Unfortunately, it does make sense to refer to its ramifications occasionally, particularly after i’ve been prevented from posting regularly.

Returning today from the longest sabbatical since i started the blog is just such an occasion…

autumn-haze

Winter is coming. I never used to mind that.

But now with winter’s approach come dismal emotions that accompany anniversaries of diagnosis and treatment.

This November 1st marks three years since the declaration. I call it the great Time Marker.

I am, as far as i know, cancer-free. The subsequent string of severe complications from the treatment appears to finally be over, but has resulted in permanent discomforts and limitations — which is why i am only now getting back to writing. They make the anniversary a bit more challenging to grieve over and move beyond.

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But if i *were* going to write about it…

When I started setting up this blog, I had lots of ideas for topics I might want to post about. Sometime later, when I hadn’t yet got around to posting anything, I was diagnosed with cancer.

I decided quickly that I wouldn’t post about it, and correctly anticipated that others would inquire as to whether I would. I’ve since then been crafting my answer to their next question, “Why not?”

The first thing that occurred to me is that it’s such an obvious choice of topic, which is reason enough itself to decline. Second, it’s just too tailor­made for heart-tugging and sympathy-engendering, leading to many obvious responses from others as well. “There but for the grace of god go I,” and all that. Third, of course the topic is interesting to me in rather specific ways, but outside of the easy melodrama, it’s hard for me to believe it’s that interesting to others. And even if it were, I would like to think it’s not the most interesting thing about me.    Continue reading