Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What Can We Learn From Avoidance?

Tova doesn't like to tell me bad news.  She hides more than half of the things that are wrong with her.  Her pat answer to every question about her well being is "Everything's fine.  How are YOU?", as if my minor issue of the day can compete with her cancer (and all of the wondrous complications that come with it).  The less she tells me (and orders her family to keep me in the dark) the worse the issue is.  That's the general rule.

So now she's had and some further issues and more tests.  And she isn't telling me the results.  Which means, of course, that the results aren't good.  Here's yesterday's phone conversation:

Me: "Hey".

Her:  "Hey".

Me:  "So?"

Her:  "So what?"

Me:  "So what??  So what did the fucking doctor say?"

Her:  "Uch everything's fine. Stop worrying.  You should worry about eating more instead.  You look too skinny."

After several more attempts at getting her to tell me, she started to get mad so I dropped it.  But a comment she made last week, while she was in a more candid phase, troubled me.

"No one beats cancer three times."

It made me stop.  And really think.

No one beats cancer three times.

Three times.  And she's 21.  This is the life she has laid out for her even if she does make it through.  She's weaker this time.  And she will be weaker still next time.  That's assuming all parts of her will get through this in tact (which, to be honest, I'm not even sure is the case now).

The area where i live was rocked this week by the death of a 35 year old who died of Leukemia.  he has four kids.  Supposedly his funeral was packed to the walls. 

Sometimes in my private moments I wonder what Tova's death would bring.  Her family isn't "important" (and quite frankly, her relationship with her mother is pretty muchas bad as mine with my mother) and she doesn't have a lot of friends (having made great efforts to keep people away - when you are sick all the time you don't always crave attachment).  She has no husband or kids of her own.  Will her funeral be well attended?  Will people even notice?

I know, I know.   I shouldn't think about these things.  All i should do is be supportive as best as I can and as much as she allows.


No one beats cancer three times.


  1. Oh, Cymbaline. I wish I had words for you.

  2. So incredibly sad. :-(

    I hope she beats all odds.

  3. Malka - No worries.

    Anon - Me too. Thnx.

  4. Sending positive vibes your (and Tova's way). I don't think odds are things anyone should ever think about? Who cares about the odds? It's about making it through. Each person has his own journey.

  5. my friend's sister passed away recently from cancer. the year before we had a discussion about the possibility of it ending in death. it was powerful and freeing to speak about it - get it out there - and then move into a state of hope, prayer and waiting. i think it's a good thing to think about and talk about, along with realizing that as long as there is breath there is life that can be lived well.
    don't push away these thoughts - the only way you can be supportive is if you are prepared and equipped to deal with anything.

  6. Irina - That's very spiritual and cute, but her journey looks like it's going to have a bad ending.

    Colloq - I'm sorry - I can't face it. I know it's horrible and unrealistic and pathetic, but it's the truth. I can't think about that outcome without dissolving into a mess of tears,

  7. This reminds me of the famous Han Solo quote "Never tell me the odds!"

    On a more serious note, this is quite heartbreaking. A small child in our community recently went through a terrible time with a particularly nasty brain cancer and somehow pulled through - it's been described as a miracle. While I can't say for certain with your friend, I do hope that things will get better, and if they don't, then the time she has should be meaningful and impactful for herself and everyone around her (you too).