Leaving a Trail

Cancer Blogs, Communicating with Family — By on June 2, 2011 at 11:10 am

“Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Dennis Pyritz, of www.beingcancer.net, raised an interesting topic this week. He was talking about the community of cancer bloggers and just asking questions about what motivates people to blog about their experiences, why they continue even after treatment has ended and what it means to be part of the larger picture. It’s good timing because I have been thinking about some of those very issues but more related to the decisions that people make after they have gone through a difficult situation such as cancer.

We all know that cancer has a way of sorting out our relationships for us. We quickly see which friend is willing to rise to the challenge, which relative stranger comes out of nowhere to go above and beyond for us and which friends and family members simply fade away. I have known people to be astonished and dismayed to discover that the very friend that they expected to understand the best failed them. How could it be that the friend whose own life had been touched by cancer would be the one to turn away? I have really been considering this over the last few weeks. What is it that makes some of us extend a hand to help another in a similar situation? And conversely, why do the others not feel compelled to assist, to give back, join the fight or pave the way?

Personally, I am here to try to provide the resources that I looked for and could not find for our son. I am here to express the thoughts that I did not feel previously able to put into words. When my husband was in treatment, I did not have the strength, time or wits about me to put a website together to help others. I guess that is not very admirable in the face of people who devote their days to the cause even as they actively fight their disease. But it’s true and although I showed up a bit late for the party, I am here now.

And I do want to validate other spouses in their own inability to focus on anything aside from what is happening in their very own homes for a time. I do want to respect that just as we all grieve in different ways, we also do cope in different ways, rage in different ways and heal in different ways. But don’t all of those emotions come from the same place within us?

I think that is the reason that I do not understand why others do not feel the desire or responsibility of making the path a bit smoother for someone who is coming behind. Especially if someone else walked before us cutting a wide swath in the thicket to make our own trudging a bit easier. Or maybe walked along with us just so we wouldn’t feel alone.

And so, Dennis, I think that’s part of why I blog in the wee hours of the morning. Because if I didn’t emerge from my husband’s diagnosis a little bit wiser or more resourceful or kinder or more grateful then I think I failed him in some way. And I don’t want this family to go back and try it again, that’s for sure.

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