Everyone is a critic

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Oddly enough I sometimes get backlash comments for being too positive. As in Dr. Dan portrayed me as being super upbeat and not every cancer patient can be that way because they are “suffering”. I suffered. I suffer. But I also am careful to not let my spirit suffer along with my body. I have extreme physical pain in my sciatic nerve and shoulder. I have gross swelling of the left arm that is caused by my lymphedema. Throughout the last several months I have lost nearly all the muscle tone and strength in my dominant hand. Over the year I was on chemo I suffered like EVERYONE who endures chemo. That’s chemo. It makes you very sick. But here is the line. It is very often said as long as you have your health….You know this expression? We ll what happens when you don’t. What can you say then? I said “Fuck it. I have today. I might be sick. I might die. But I am going to enjoy every little thing until there is no more.”

Now this attitude stuns some people. Others are right there with me. I have heard criticisms because I say things about what cancer has taught me. As if I am saying I am a sage now. Which I most certainly am not. I had a lot to learn about life. And what it means to be self less and forgiving. Those things I learned from being a mom and being married to an alcoholic. I learned a lot of lessons from going back to school. I learned lessons from my close friends who were willing to tell me hard truths. And I learned a lot about love, marriage, and partnership from Kelly who frequently had to remind me that he was “on my side”. But I didn’t have a blog while I was learning those lessons. I didn’t have a forum for those epiphanies. I have one now. With cancer. And for now I am talking about those lessons. I am living a life based on acceptance. Whether you are an atheist or a zealot I don’t care. We all must accept that our lives follow a random and chaotic course designed to enlighten us. Dealing with that simple truth makes everything a lot easier.

I do not think I am smarter or more enlightened than others. Nor am I happy all the time. Although I am rarely depressed. But I was rarely depressed before my diagnosis. I am just me. I am just finding my way through a sea of medical treatments and bad news. But I am also resting on the peace of the Lord. I am resting in the arms of close friends and loved ones. I am learning about life from the fact that I am dying. But we are all dying. It is in fact the only thing we can count on in life.And I am not dying today. Today I am sore tired and weak. But I have NOTHING to complain about. So I will likely smile and laugh quite a bit today. So sue me.

22 Responses to “Everyone is a critic”

  1. Tina, French Creek, WV says:

    Love it!!! I’m such a whiner and I do get depressed a lot, but reading about your experience thru your blog gives me a good kick in the seat. It shakes me out of myself and makes me see how annoyingly self-involved I can be. I have SO MUCH to be thankful for and God is in control!!

  2. Jim says:

    Andrea,
    You have the same outlook I have and try to instill in my 79 year old widowed Mom – Every day when you wake up the first thing you should think and say out loud is – ‘Wow, I won – I have another day – Isn’t God great !!
    Keep on Praising and Blogging
    jim

  3. imstell says:

    Darned if you do and darned if you don’t in some people’s books. I’ve never quite understood it. Perhaps misery DOES love company??? I applaud your attitude and can ony hope that when I walk in similar shoes, I can do so with the grace and good spirit that you are showing.

  4. Denise in Ontario says:

    Hi Andrea,

    I have said this before and will reiterate my comments. I hate it when people use you and your plight to feel good about their own lives – like the comments you get from people like Tina. They are so self-serving. If there is not anything in it for them personally then they are not interested. I have cancer and feel the way you do about it. I wasn’t depressed before I got cancer so I’m sure as hell not gonna waste my time being depressed now. Apart from that it hasn’t really taught me that much other than the fact that you just don’t realise how many people you have an effect on in your day-to-day life and you didn’t appreciate how lucky you were not to have a life-threatening illness.

  5. Deb says:

    You go, girl! I can’t imagine why anyone would fault you or criticize you for any attitudes, feelings or outlook you have. I think you are spot-on. I used to feel there was nothing so sobering as walking into the cancer center at the Univ. of AZ but there was also nothing as nice as walking OUT and seeing AND APPRECIATING sunshine and blue skies. But everyone is different. If you give 20 people the same set of circumstances, they will handle it 20 different ways. I’m sure posting on this blog is cathartic to you and it certainly is inspirational to a LOT of people – MANY more than actually respond. So DON’T worry about what anyone else thinks or says. You are an amazing, strong woman with a will of iron and a heart of gold and are loved by many.

  6. Julie says:

    I wish I had a video of who you were when we were in our early 20’s, going to comedy shows, hanging on South Street (or in Mom’s), etc. Then I could show everyone how little you have changed.

    I remember your keen ability of finding humor in anything and everything. You’ve always been a beacon. Life and light has always surrounded you and, in turn, those in your life.

    As you said – it’s just who you are and just in the few, brief moments we’ve shared lately, nothing has changed. You are still my crazy, beautiful, fun, smart Andrea and you always will be.

  7. Tina, French Creek, WV says:

    Wow, so sorry to have displeased you, Denise. If Andrea is insulted by the perspective I gain from her postings, then I apologize to her also. Everyone’s life and experiences are different and I only hoped in my very inadequate way to let Andrea know that although I don’t currently share her situation, I appreciate her letting us all share in her life. Since you said you’ve never experienced depression, please don’t deem to know what I go thru – just like I don’t deem to know what having cancer is like. Thanks again, Andrea and I apologize for any misuse of this space.

  8. Andrea says:

    Actually Tina I am not offended in any way by your comments. I think I get Denise’s feelings. I am just not sure there is anything wrong with saying this helps me put things in perspective. I don’t feel like your saying well at least I don’t have cancer…I feel like you’re saying this helps me with my life too.

  9. Tina, French Creek, WV says:

    Thanks, that’s what I intended. I really do admire you. I have never seen anyone face this fight with your spirit and amazing attitude. I’ve only seen the “woe is me” types who give up are just waiting to die. I’m learning so much from you! God is using you!

  10. joshua says:

    as long as you don’t think that i need to be happy, too…

  11. leah says:

    Andrea, I love how you express yourself, there is nothing wrong with being positive, and i don’t think there is such a thing as being too positive.
    live for today, enjoy the moment, i say it all the time i could walk outside and get run over by a bus, you need to enjoy what you have, and take the good with the bad. life is not all peaches and cream. you have taught me to enjoy so many more things, time with my kids, and my husband, and my dog, man i love my dog! LOL
    and i say it is what it is, you can’t spend energy thinking it could be better or it could be worse, it is what it is. you change what you can the rest just is.
    i looked at the shore pictures again today, i love them so much, they came out so good i really enjoy looking at them and the different expressions on everyone’s faces, i get such a happy feeling, that must have been the most fun ever!
    keep up the great work!

  12. Lin says:

    Fuck it is right..Fuck it, I personally find you to be an angry selfcentered woman, nasty to most of the peole who care about you the most…

  13. Renee Khan says:

    Andrea:

    Ha ha ha.

    I was just told today by my niece (no less) that no one can please me and that I am abusive. ha ha ha.

    Funny how what we write on our blogs can be interpreted.

    I read your interview and I thought it was real. Real is all we need to go for, whether on that particular day we are happy, sad, angry …….

    Have a peaceful day.

    Love Renee

    p.s. I think Tucker’s poetry is splendid.

  14. Andrea says:

    Lin….you were kidding right?

  15. maryellen Nerz-Stormes says:

    Dear Andrea,

    I read Dr. Dan’s recent article about your struggles. I think you do have a great attitude. I think we should all live in the day.

    I know the first few years I battled breast cancer, I felt very much in the day and felt I lived in this special world and I did. In some ways it was the best time of my life.

    I really would be happy to help you in any way I can. I have battled metastatic breast cancer for seven years and I am a superfighter. If you wanted any help, I would be happy to try.

    I have been thinking about you a lot and praying for you.

    I would like to knwo your address because I would love to help with your expenses.

  16. Donna says:

    Who is Lin? Never saw her posted before, and hope to never again…where is the understanding and compassion?

  17. Ruthie says:

    Don’t know who Lin is. Am not sure I care to. Andrea, I just want to tell you that your writing is raw and real, and I think it is beautiful. Ruthie

  18. No one is a critic. Trust me. x

  19. Karen says:

    I think the old saying is that we are as happy as we decide to be. What more can any of us do than make the most of each day God gives us.
    Take care.

  20. Inspirational. Beautiful,brave and inspirational. I’m not supposed to use words like that: i’m ”british” after all. but those are the only ones that i could find that seemed right to use. keep writing. keep smiling. x

  21. […] The way Andrea was able to chronicle her life with cancer is absolutely amazing, and every time I read her entries I can not help but to think how brave she was for opening up, being so candid, and sharing her experience with a bunch of strangers like myself. Instead of speaking for her, I will let her words speak to you: Everyone is a Critic, May 27th 2008 […]

  22. A says:

    When I heard you were gone, I started reading all these journal entries over, and although I’m sure you’re not stealing Jesus’ wi-fi signal, I still can feel like I am saying something to you by writing this reply. I saw that TV show you were on, and do you know what I thought about it? I just kept thinking that that host guy had no idea what an AMAZING woman you were before you got cancer…that the ability to inspire people had zero to do with fighting cancer, that you just kept doing it despite the cancer. Sometimes you pop into my head, and I want to thank you for giving me something to think about in the short time I knew you way back when. I only hope I can be a mommy, be a woman, in the way you were. I wish peace for you. Bye.