beth israel deaconess medical center a harvard medical school teaching hospital

  • Contact BIDMC
  • Maps & Directions
  • Other Locations
  • Careers at BIDMC
  • Smaller Larger

Find a Doctor

Request an Appointment

Smaller Larger

Shifting Endurance

Posted 8/29/2016

Posted in

  I had to sit and stare at the computer screen for a few minutes before coming up with a title for this entry. Shifting Endurance seems to capture the flavor of a wonderful essay by Susan Gubar and my own thoughts that she stimulated with her writing.

  Our priorities and our energies change over time. With or without a cancer diagnosis, I suspect that most 70 year olds have a different view of what is possible, let alone reasonable, than most 30 somethings. Of course there are exceptions, but most of us do get tired as we age and begin to think about shifting tides, changing seasons, mortality. It is impossible as September nears not to think of the poignant Sinatra lines: "It's a long, long time from May to December."

  Susan Gubar writes about living for years with ovarian cancer. Now maintained on an experimental drug, I assume as part of a clinical trial, she recognizes that she has less fight left in her than she did in the past. If forced to stimulate that energy, would she do so? Probably, but just thinking about it, wondering if she could--that's a shift.

  Here is the start of her lovely essay and then a link to read ore:

More Life to Be Lived

Occasionally I feel so worn down by the exigencies of cancer and of aging that I believe the time has arrived to face the end, though I dearly wish to be proven wrong.
Upon awakening after the first night at the new apartment, nausea overwhelmed me. The boxes had propagated. In every room, cartons of books, dishes, cutlery, glasses, cookware, clothing, cleaning implements, medical equipment, towels, sheets, quilts, photos, and paintings lined the walls.
Did hauling around some of these parcels produce the extensive bruising on my upper arms? I would not know for sure until a few days later, when I was scheduled to see my oncologist. What, if anything, would I do, if her explanation sounded more sinister? Would I be as proactive as I had been in the past? Or had multiple procedures, along with the passage of time, combined to diminish my inner resources?
To medical professionals and acquaintances who ask, I never say, “I had cancer.” The past tense sounds
fraudulent. While powerful medication keeps my disease from roaring back, I consider myself a patient depleted but not yet unhinged by ongoing treatment. Like me, other people with chronic conditions may find their resolve and their objectives altering as they grow older and frailer.
In the meanwhile, there were urgent issues to take my mind off my qualms. The dishwasher and entry lights did not work, and where were the bulbs for the lamps?
Since my husband, Don, and I were getting sick of the available fast food, I set to work on the kitchen, while
worrying that the purplish-blue splotches on my arms had been caused by required interruptions of my medication.


Add your comment