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No Shame in Crying - Kenneth Lourie


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No Shame in Crying

September 12th, 2013 - by Kenneth Lourie

Nor is it a crying shame. But something has changed, dare I say affected my tear duct production. I can’t say with certainty – or even specify a particular moment in time for sure – when the tears began to flow more easily, but I’ll guess the change occurred sometime on or around February 27, 2009, the day I first met my oncologist; the day I was diagnosed with a terminal disease, stage IV non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), “prognosed” to live 13 months to two years. If that kind of shocking, terminal-type news doesn’t upset your apple cart – permanently, “You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din.” And so it has, as reflected in my frequent “salty discharge” (to quote Jerry Seinfeld).

How this “upset” has manifested itself has been in my emotional reactions to things. On a wide range of subjects, when discussions conjure any kind of heartfelt, semi emotional connection/reaction, my voice weakens, quivers, shakes, cracks and then becomes almost inaudible as I try to string together the words in my brain that I’m trying to vocalize through my mouth. Invariably the words get out, but in a halting type of hesitation rather than the firm kind of expression with which I’m accustomed. I used to be confident in what I said; now I’ve become confident in what I can’t say.

Moreover, if the circumstances described in the previous paragraph occur in a semi private place, or where I feel a bit more at ease, my eyes will begin to water and tears will form. I can usually prevent my cheeks from getting wet by rubbing my eyes and clearing my throat, but at that point, the damage is already done: I have been walloped emotionally, almost unexpectedly, given the usually unrelated-to-my life story line mentioned. Once again however, the cancer – in my opinion, has reared its ugly, figurative head.

It’s not exactly as if I’m crying over spilled milk, but I seem to be crying over and about thoughts, memories, expressions, references, etc., not necessarily relating to cancer and rarely connecting to me. It’s as if my reaction stabilizer (as if there is such a thing) has been compromised somehow. (You think?) I can’t control or even prevent these very public displays of being affected. Apparently, my immune system is so focused on fighting/fending off the cancer – internally/physically, that it has lost its ability to thwart off the external. It seems that the words I see, hear and feel upset me more than the metastatic tumors I know I have in my lungs do.

I’m definitely different now. I can’t always keep my feelings to myself. The tears give me away. It’s not embarrassing – to me. It’s nothing about which I’m ashamed. It is however, something for which I have no off switch. And though I may have thought – about myself, going into this cancer life, that I was fairly sturdy and together emotionally, perhaps these tears are evidence to the contrary. Or maybe it’s simply my body’s way of coping with an extremely demanding and hostile intruder: cancer.

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Sitting here smiling and thinking about your words Kenneth, wishing I could put my thoughts down as well. I was not giving a deadline like yourself back in 2009, but will never forget the words "you have lung cancer". I am a fairly new member and have my ups and downs with my treatment and never really sure where I stand with my cancer. I come here and read the new posts but find it difficult to reply. Most members are so knowledgeable and truth is I have very difficult time stringing together words to reply to posts. The site is very uplifting and has helped me a lot and wish I could contribute more. Promise you this Kenneth you are not alone with the tears ! I didn't find my faith when I was told "you have cancer" but can tell you all that Jesus has comforted me through this very difficult time in my life. God Bless you all !

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Hi Kenneth,

My apologies for my rather late response to your post,I have been distracted of late,so many things going on in my life.

I so appreciated reading your post,so well written,so understandable to me with your descriptive emotional rollercoaster ride since your diagnosis.

I was diagnosed in 2008 with NSCLC,it was such a shock to me,it was so strange really to be feeling so well physically and yet to have my life threatened by this disease.Like you,emotionally, I found this to be the greatest challenge,from the outset,I did'nt cope very well,although I did have excellent support from family and friends.

Following my upper right lobectomy in Jan 2009,after a bit of recouperation,I returned to my GP to ask for permission to return to work.I mentioned to him,sitting at home alone during the long dark winter months was getting me down,I really needed to get back to work,to be amongst my work colleagues and students to fully re-engage with my life again.My GP asked me what I did for a living,was there someone else doing my job in my absence,when I replied,he said,I would be better letting others carry on with my job,taking some quality time out with my wife,since I had only two years maximum to live.Believe it or not he added,quote, "I remember having a patient some years ago with lung cancer,he managed to survive five years,what a character he was-but you are not him".Well,this October 14th my GP will be receiving a specially produced anniversary card from,which I hope will be a reminder to him about not making predictions on patients expirey dates.

Following the completion of my treatments,I spend some time researching lung cancer,I learned so much,so many negative facts I discovered,what I was really looking for were positive stories of survivors who were given a poor prognosis but against the odds overcame their doctors predictions.One day I picked up a local paper I found an article within it about a guy called Robert Lowe setting up a lung cancer support group in a hospital near my home,as I continued to read the article,he described his cancer journey,diagnosed with SCLC in 1993,given two months to live,Robert asked for the strongest chemo regime that would give him a fighting chance to live.He was hospitalised during this chemo,on more than one occassion he was so ill, his family was called to his bedside as his doctors did'nt think he would see the next day.Well to the amazement of his doctors,Robert went on to make a full recovery.2007,Robert is now dxd with NSCLC,has his treatments,goes onto make a full recovery,he has survived two types of lung cancer for twenty years,a record that remains unique in the whole of the UK.Robert and I became close friends,I discovered we had a lot in common,we were both born and raised in the same district in Glasgow,Springburn,we even attended the same schools and despite Robert being ten years my senior we even shared many of the same teachers.What fun we had sharing anecdotes of past times.

I have done so much with my life post dx,I enjoy every day I wake up to,I have so many stories to share with you,that I hope can encourage you.I have visited so many places and met so many wonderful people I would have never met otherwise,were it not for my cancer.I like to say cancer may have rained on my parade,but it sure came with a great big silver lining.

My very best wishes to you,I do hope we can exchange some further posts.God Bless.

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