Wednesday, May 03, 2006

May 3, 2006

I have been willing myself to blog for almost a week now, obviously to no avail. Basically, it's because I really have nothing happy to say. I'm not sure why exactly that's a reason for reticence, as complaining is cathartic and I really don't care if I come off as negative right now. I am just having having an impossible time reconciling my illness and my life right now. I am basically bedridden and bored beyond explanation. I am constantly exhausted and therefore incapable of doing anything really except what I used to avoid (despise?): watch TV all day. So, within me resides the perfect catch-22 between aching to be active/productive and simply physically being unable. I'm not sure why my mind won't read any of the great books around me or let myself appreciate catching up on all the movies and Food TV that anyone could ever hope for. I do appreciate my friends and Jaci for doing everything in their power to make me smile. They are usually very successful at raising my spirits but it's fleeting and not self-catalyzed, you know? I laugh and love them so much, but my heart is heavy and refuses to be lifted. One reason I think I'm so depressed is that I was never sick with leukemia. What I mean is, I felt perfectly fine the night I went into the ER and was whisked into chemotherapy and blood filtering. So, all I feel is the pain of the treatment without ever suffering why the heck I have to go through two years of hell. Of course, I believe that I was very sick, but you see, it's only a belief- something someone told me. Leukemia, they say, is like that. People get a funky bruise or have a lingering cramp, they go to the hospital and boom, they're a cancer patient. For me, they tell me, it was even more dramatic. No time to discuss fertility options, treatment options, etc, so perhaps it's finally catching up with me. Will acceptance come next? I spoke with a man who just finished his two years of this same protocol and he commiserated that these thirty weeks (Phase III) were the worst for him; he said he spent a summer in bed. He wanted to show me how he's made it through and to show me I would too. Well, I know I sound bitter and people tell me I should grateful to be alive and I am grateful for me family and friends, but I take no consolation that I will feel better sometime in December. I'm embarrassed by people's sweet declarations of my strength... I don't know if I can handle this.

23 comments:

Raven said...

Erica,

When I used to live in Toronto, I went through a tough period in my life. I had this little quote book with me that I would read something inspiring from every day. I thought I'd send you some, sometimes just filling your mind with good thoughts gives you something to hang on to. Here you go!

"When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on."
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

"There will come a time when you believe everything is finished...that will be the beginning."
- Louis L'amour, American Writer

"Reality is something you rise above."
-Liza Minnelli, American Actress

"You must do the thing you think you cannot do."
-Eleanor Roosevelt

Lots of people are thinking of you!
Nadaa, Lauren, and I (Part of Your Fletcher Family) send our support.

Raven

Raven said...

Here's another good one:

"There is nothing the body suffers that the soul may not profit by."
- George Meredith, British Writer

Also, Lauren, Nadaa, and I would love to come visit, and bring cookies and whatnot next week sometime. Would you be up for some visitors?

email: raven.smith@gmail.com
lauren.inouye@tufts.edu

Jackie Hanks said...

Erica,
You are human and I believe that your feelings of frustration and depression are only natural. I think that you being able to share your emotions with all of us who care about you is necessary to lift the heavy weight you carry off your shoulders. Your words brought me to tears, but even through this dark patch you will survive and your spirits will rise again...that is the Erica I know! Hang in there!!!
Jackie

Jon Endrikat said...

Hi Erica,

All I can tell you is that while Alias is a really great show to pass the time, I think it is time to move onto more exciting things. Why don't you take a trip into the life of Jack Bauer in 24. I gaurantee that it will make things way more exciting (although you might need to convince Jacks)!

Joking aside, that was a very powerful note. And all I can say is that your feelings are completely valid. Maybe it is a consolation (maybe it isn't) but you are handling your situation in ways I can't even being to describe how much I admire. Things suck, but you are going to win. Because, Erica, that's what you do. You are fiesty. Maybe you don't see that now, but mark my words, it is only a matter of time before you realize how strong you really are.

Don't be embarassed about people's declarations, they (and I) say it because it is true.

All my love

Jon

Jennie Edwards said...

Erica,

Your strength is an inner one that comes from your heart. I know you may not feel like it's there right now, but it is and everyone who knows you and loves you knows that you have the strength to get through this, even with the rough patches. Nobody can fault you for feeling angry or bitter. The fact that you have managed this long without really complaining is amazing to me. And while it's hardly reassuring that there is a light at the end of the very long and painful tunnel, just remember that your friends and family love you and we are here for you, even if all you want to do until December is complain. We still love you.

Send my love to Jaci.

Take care,
Jennie

Kent said...

I once read that the ability to make friends was God’s way of apologizing for your family. While I certainly do not feel that he owes you any particular apology in that regard, the saying always made me realize the importance of friendship.

I know this has not been easy for you. In fact, I am sure that this is the hardest thing that you have experienced in your life. I have been fortunate enough to be in Boston this entire time. I have seen highs and lows. I also know that there have been ranges of emotions behind doors and curtains which I have not seen which I cannot even begin to imagine.

I guess the point of this post is to remind you that you have friends…good friends…friends that love you…and times in our lives like these are the point of having friends. If you need someone to lean on….lean. If you need someone to shout at….shout. If you need someone to laugh with…laugh. These are the reasons you have friends. Your friends will be there for you in any way they can, and all they ask for is that one day, if they need it, they can ask the same of you.

I know there are times when you don’t feel brave or strong. You feel like you had no choice in what happened to you, and that you are doing the only thing that you can do…coping and surviving. You say you feel angry…depressed. I hope that you do feel those things. You would not be human if you didn’t. I know people that struggle with those emotions on a daily basis without ever dealing with cancer. What people find inspirational though, is that in you, they see the strength and hope that they know they would not find in themselves.

I know the past few months have been hellish. I know that the foreseeable future will not be easy either. I won’t patronize you with Nietzsche or Hallmark. It is not going to be easy. But with the help of your friends and family, you will get through this.

The only thing you can say in regards to this is what kind of donuts you want from Dunkin Donuts, because I am coming over tomorrow with at least half a dozen. See you tomorrow.

Kent

artineh said...

Erica,

Thank you for writing, even though it must have been a hard blog to write. I check every day to see how you're doing and as your friends, we all want to help you, especially when you're down. That's why we form friendships... not only for the fun. And sometimes it may seem like even the thousands of friends you have made cannot make you better but put your woes out there and we'll catch them and do our best to help, even if it's just lending a set of ears.

You are human as others have already said and I would be worried if you didn't have these lows. Even those who love TV and doing nothing all day hit a breaking point so I can only imagine how difficult it is for you to sustain some sense of sanity when you're couped up in a place with a TV and the inability to do the active things you have always loved to do. I do hope that acceptance will come soon but I am also holding out for better days before December.

I don't know what to say or what to suggest to make this time more easy for you. I thought for some time before writing this post... trying my hardest to come up with an idea, a way around this. I guess the only consolation I have to offer is that it is temporary. You will get through this, you will prevail.

I'm pretty sure now that I will be in the Boston area late this month so if you're up for visitors, I would love to come and spend a day with you.

lots of love and good wishes,
art

Rachel said...

Erica,

I'm sure this post was hard to write, but as someone who checks up on the blog every day, I am thankful to hear how you are doing (whether it be well or poorly). I don't know what I would do in your situation or how I would feel, but I'm sure that you are managing far more gracefully than I ever could and with far more strength of character than anyone could expect.

What I mean is that you have every right to feel rotten, but for what it is worth, I think about you constantly and am sending all of my positive energy. I know it is the same for the other SARC girls and Forrest.

If there is anything that you need, I would love to know what it is - I would be most grateful to help in any way possible.

Warmly,
Rachel Laybourn

V-Omega said...

Erica!

I'm sorry you're so bummed. The other people are right about you and your spirit, so I won't waste my words there. Instead, here are some low-energy alternatives to TV:

1) Origami. You can make some amazing, beautiful things and origami has an interesting mathematical foundation. (I know, IR to math, but....) I'll look at my book collection to see if I can recommend any to you.

2) Books. I just read The Namesake by Lahiri. Really interesting story about first generation immigrants.

3) Magazines. I read and recommend: Harper's, The Nation, and The New Republic. Harper's is the most entertaining, but it only comes once a month, rats! I've also read and like The Atlantic Monthly. Let me know if you want a subscription to Harper's.

4) Art projects. Aside from being messy and fun, there's a whole professional field called "Art Thereapy" that uses art to help people out. So I say, self-medicate with:
- Popsicle Stick Sculpture! (or toothpicks if you're really patient)
- Finger painting
- Contour and Blind Contour Drawing.
- Oil Pastel drawings. Good/easy way to make bold-colored pictures.

Leukemia is tough --you're tougher.

We all know you will thrive again.

All the best,
Nate

Leslie Edwards said...

I think everyone's response has been a normal reaction to reading your email. So, while I don't want to reiterate what's been said, I will tell you that even at the lowest of low, you will find strength. Everyone has low points in their life and while most don't come close to the type of lows that you are having, everyone experiences and deals with their lows in different ways. No one can tell you how to feel and not many of us can sympathize with what you are going through. Of course we all want to see your strength throughout this treatment, but no one expects that this will be a walk in the park for you. Life sucks right now, but like the other posts, there is a light at the end of this long tunnel and you will see it soon. I wish I had some words of wisdom for you, but I know that nothing I say is going to change the way that you are feeling. All I can say is thank you for your honesty...I love you, I miss you and I hope to be in Boston sooner than later.

Anai said...

hi sweetie,

I have a kind of weird sounding suggestion to add to the responses inspired by your latest and most raw blog entry: for at least a day, do nothing. but I mean really nothing, no t.v., books, distractions etc. Just wait and see what comes, let these emotions of sorrow wash over you, cry all that you need to cry. Dont worry about what you think you should be feeling or doing. Try to dig into what the core of every feeling is, in its purest form. Acknowledge each one while simultaneously knowing that the very divine core that animates all life is within you, weathering this storm, like a platform on which the stronger, wiser and vibrant new Erica will be built (even if you find it hard to believe at this point). Rather than try to seek comfort in all the mundane and cliche things, sometimes looking inside and simply facing and acknowledging those scary feelings can lighten your load a little bit. Just don't ever think that those scary feelings are everything (don't wallow too much!) All I can say is I love you.

Anai said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Christina said...

Hey babe,

Just wanted to let you know that whatever you are feeling right now is what YOU are allowed to be feeling. I am 100% positive that its okay for you to feel bitter/negative etc about everything that is going on in your life. Fall into an abyss of whatever emotion you deem necessary. As long as you find your way back out again, we won't mind your absence ;)

TheDarkerUma said...

Anai, as always, seems to be on to something.

Or....

Arghhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!

Perhaps a good, rip roaring scream?

I remember getting a stress ball from someone when I was "stressed". I wanted to scream. So, I did.

Didn't solve anything, but it got the blood flowing.

I love you.
Uma

Sara Celiberti said...

You may think it's preposterous and arrogant of me to say this, but I think I can understand how you're feeling right now... you don't know me but I really hope we'll meet when you come back to Fletcher... lots of people have already written you encouraging thoughts and creative ideas to feel better... I can only tell you that it's ok to feel unhappy, bored, downright negative and impossibly annoyed...it's your right to feel that way, you are sick!
But it won't be forever... one day you'll shed the skin of Erica the cancer patient and you'll become someone else... erica the graduate Fletcher student, Erica the happy, mature girl that nothing can put done because sh'es already gone through more than a lot of people go through their whole life... anything you want to be and you'll become.
Just like a love story that didn't quite ended the way you thought it would be, you'll look back on all the past pain and tears and still remember what it was like, but it won't be you anymore.
I'm not telling you to be batient or believe it will happen... I KNOW it will happen!
I look forward to meeting you Erica... just wallow in TV for now... :o)

Sara

Clif said...

Hi Erica, it's your "cousin" Clif.

I just bought myself a spiffy black and purpleTeam Erica T-shirt.

Though I want to avoid boring you with a predicatable pablum, I just want you to know that there are many more of us that read your blog regularly and might not leave comments. Some of us are just a bit speechless, but we're here nonetheless.

Melissa Marie said...

Hey Erica,

This is David Rion's girlfriend Melissa. I just wanted to embarrass you a little more by saying that I think you are absolutely incredible in every sense of the word and even if you may be at a point when you don't know if you can do this, believe me, sweetheart, you CAN. No question. Not one single person who has ever heard your story has ever doubted for a single mili-second that you are going to kick Leukemia's ass. Excuse my french. :)

Keep your head as up as you can and lean on all of the lovely people you have in your life. If you need anything, please, as always, let us know.

Lots and lots and lots of love and prayers and hugs and positive thoughts,

Melissa

Matt Warren said...

As only a fellow Gemini can do, I have two things to say, one a pithy attempt at humor, and something somewhat serious...

First, the good news is you are not at rock bottom yet...I could be there telling you the same tired 3 jokes over and over and over and over...

Second, hang in there. It's ok to feel whatever you're feeling...lathergic, depressed, hopeful, even happy.

Like so many others, I have been checking up on you every day. You've been in my prayers for years now, and you won't be leaving the list anytime soon.

The Not So Reverend Matt Warren

Greg Genco said...

Erica,
It took alot of courage and strength to so openly express the frustration and despondency you are feeling. And I think it is your courage and strength that will see you through this terribly trying time. That, as well as the unwavering support of your family and friends that has been so beautifully displayed on the pages of this blog already. I would like to add to that support in any way that I can.
Please please take care.
with love,
Greg

artineh said...

Erica,
I thought of something else you might try (to add to one of the other blogs). I don't know how possible this is (since I don't know if you have a patio or balcony) but maybe you can start a vegetable and/or herb garden to pass the time and get you away from the TV a while. Sev just made a huge one at the orchards and he loves it and thinks it's quite the therapeutic activity.

anyhow, I hope you are doing better than the day you wrote the blog. I'm thinking of you, of course.

love,
art

Alex Thunder said...

Dear Erica,

I don't know what else I can say what the others haven't said yet. I just want to say that I believe in you and your power to get through this.

Love,
Alex

Erik said...

SENDING LOVE FROM ACROSS THE COUNTRY. RIGHT NOW. AND YESTERDAY. AND TOMORROW.

(Erica, I just want you to know that your friends are always thinking of you and vibes of love and energy are always traveling in all directions across the country to you.)

Char said...

Erica,

I know we have only met briefly but I know you well through Jaci. I can only imagine how difficult this stage of your life is and we all wish we could wipe away the pain. It's not surprising that you are feeling so down. My advice to you is to scream, yell and wail about all the injustice you feel. You are entitled to feel all the emotions you are feeling and you've got to honor those feelings! So, my dear, let it all out. Feel those feelings and then move on to the next wave. We are all thinking of you as healthy and strong as you will soon be.

Love to both of you.