Can you be normal with cancer?

9 Dec

With the sword of Damocles hanging over my head I sometimes ask myself whether my life can return to some form of normalcy.  Then I grapple with the question “What isNormal?”

This week was a treatment week. I’m still on a one-week-on/one-week-off regime of chemotherapy.  I schlep through the traffic to Tel Hashomer on Monday mornings, do the rounds of bureaucracy and blood tests and start my infusion. A long day lingers past lunch-time, I’m hooked up to my 5-F-U and my ever-present wife takes me home. Steroids mask the side-effects till Friday or Saturday, and my “week-on” is almost over. That’s my routine. It’s been like that for a year. Is that “normal”? Well, no; that’s not what I meant.

This morning, Pam was lecturing in Tel Aviv. I still love to listen to her – even though she sometimes asks whether I couldn’t deliver the lectures myself. Today is the hardest day of my cycle; I’m not feeling great.  I sit quietly in a corner and people come up to me. That’s nice. People. Some have the ability to communicate – but a few just say the “wrong” thing. Like telling a story of someone close who didn’t “last long”. Some aren’t able to differentiate between the myriad manifestations of cancer – whether the patient was operable or not. Is it a comfort to hear all these stories, or not?

But mostly I’m amazed at how well-meaning people are. And the importance of communication. How happy I am when someone tells me a chain of coincidences that led to someone having read my blog. Just lately people have been telling me that if they didn’t know I’d been sick …I’m looking really well!  Is that “normal”? Well, no; that’s not what I meant.

Pam’s lecture ends and we meet good friends for lunch. Normal as can be. Or is it? I’ve come prepared with my food supplements and pills. Not such a hardship. But when it’s over 20 pills a day – it’s difficult to swallow.     

My neuropathy[1] is not nornal. Nor is not having bread[2]. I can’t explain how I put up with the phenomena – but I just do.

But in the meantime, to so many out there who really care, please pass on my blog through whatever social network you can – Facebook, Twitter or old-fashioned word of mouth. How gratifying to think we can help each other. and reach even more people that may need help. It really keeps me going.


[1] Neuropathy is a functional disturbance or pathological change in the peripheral nervous system. In my case it manifests itself in pins and needle type feeling in my fingers and toes.

[2] I’m sticking religiously to my Ketogenic diet. There’s a growing number of people who believe that this diet is a key weapon in fighting cancer; pancreatic cancer in particular.

2 Responses to “Can you be normal with cancer?”

  1. Nima Dan December 10, 2011 at 9:02 pm #

    Martin, your ability to express so descriptively the situations in what has become your life is inspiring. A colleague of Pam’s, actually asked her whether she was helping you with writing the blog. Israel being the small place that it is, we know about each other, even though we have never met. I know about your pain (my good friend Debbie Kedem has talked about you) and you know about mine (I lost my daughter Aylah in a biking accident in Bolivia a year and a half ago). This kind of real pain forces upon you an appreciation of the warmth of human contact – and I reach out to you, virtually, to touch and encourage you.

    • fightingpancreaticcancer December 10, 2011 at 9:54 pm #

      Hi Nina,
      Your comment is so touching. Pam has spoken of you often with love. Words often fail in circumstances like ours, but unconditional support in times of all kinds of pain is so helpful. Thank you for the compliment about writing. The concept of “How good comes out of bad” is an interesting one for a future blog. Thanks again.

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