Living With Cancer: Practicing Loss

“Living With Cancer: Practicing Loss” by Susan Gubar, The New York Times Well Blog.

At times when I consider my losses, I feel like a loser in the battle against self-pity. Like many diseases, cancer has everything to do with loss. My losses, like those of most people, vary in scope. The biggest is the loss of physical autonomy. I must rely on all sorts of equipment and medicine to keep me going. Then there is the big loss of my teaching job. Enforced retirement isolates me from the intellectual community that had sustained me throughout my life. The smaller losses of my hair and of not being able to feel my feet sometimes loom larger than they should.

But why be a downer? Who wants to wallow? To take my mind off my woes, it is always possible to think of someone worse off. Yet it feels meanspirited to buck oneself up with the misery of others, not an attractive option. Neither can I bear to become a Pollyanna.What I need then is something more stringent or even mordant.

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