Those of us in the cancer club sometimes face a temptation that’s seldom talked about. It doesn’t affect all of us but possibly more than care to admit it.

Even though blood cancers are more survivable than ever before, we are acutely aware of Leuk’s death threats. This possibility of a shortened life can get our minds cranking in a direction we’d not considered before, or if we had, it was something we rejected as fool hardy, morally wrong, or even dangerous.

Ideas that once played out in fantasies start becoming possibilities. Let’s call it the “I’d-like-to-try-that-before-I-die” syndrome. I’m not talking about your usual bucket list stuff like hang gliding or deep sea fishing. I don’t have any statistics but I’m guessing the problem is more common among men.

Okay, so I seem to be dancing around it. If you have this issue than you know what I’m talking about: the desire for a brief dalliance or even a full-blown affair outside of your marriage.

Now, I have friends and relatives who read this blog so I want to be clear here. I am talking about temptations and close calls – not actual actions. But when I started this blog I promised to be as honest as I could with my readers. If my goal is to help and encourage those struggling with leukemia I can’t BS them. I have to be real.

In the early stages of leukemia, especially with CLL, Leuk is invisible. You still feel pretty good and to the outside world you look quite normal. But you don’t know how long you will still have the energy needed to remain active. You don’t know, especially in the beginning, what will come of you – what sort of life you will be living, or even how long you will be living.

During this time of inward (and frankly selfish) brooding, that little dark spot in your soul, the secret place that everyone on the planet has and tries to keep under control, starts weaving through your mind like the threading tendrils of a parasitic plant. What was once a faint, empty whisper barely heard, becomes a slowly growing chant pushing you towards compulsion. If not checked, you will act.

This is not a battle with Leuk. It is a battle within yourself. So how do you beat this thing? What tools are there to resist these dark thoughts?

Here’s seven to consider. Keep them in your tool bag at all times:

(1) God. If you have a faith in God than use it. Put Him to work. You’ve already been praying about your fight with Leuk and maybe, just maybe, the fight we’re talking about here is even more important.

(2) A Friend. Not just a beer drinking, Monday night football friend. I mean a real Friend – the one you trust, the one you can open your soul to and know he won’t judge you but will hold you accountable. If you are lucky enough to have such a friendship, reach out for help. You may have noticed I capitalized ‘Friend’ just like I capitalized ‘God’. Why? Well, I have such a friend and he deserves the same kind of respect. I don’t see him often but I know I can rely on him. My faith in God often falters but my trust in my friend never does.

(3) Your legacy. Think about what you will leave to your family. I don’t mean any inheritance of wealth. I mean the legacy of who you were and what you meant to them. The desire to build a legacy, a reputation if you will, before you die can overpower any compulsions that might destroy it.

(4) Your mind. Keep guard on what you put into your head. Avoid pornography completely. Even some television shows can lead you in weird directions. Get rid of Cable and check out movies from the library or rent from Netflix.

(5) Read. Read. Read. Soak your soul with the bracing magic of good writers.

(6) Don’t spend too much time alone. Stay involved with your family. Just being with your spouse, your kids, and especially your grand-kids puts your mind right as to what is really important.

(7) Your roots. There is a beach grass that grows on the beaches here. Though it grows in the gravel and sand it is almost impossible to pull out. Each plant joins its roots with every other plant forming a strong underground web structure that holds the beach together confounding the erosive efforts of the winter storm waves . By applying the above suggestions to your daily habits you will grow stronger and find that your dark desires become less important.

Writer’s, all writers, whether writing non-fiction or fiction, put a piece of themselves in their work. It’s not blatantly obvious but it is there, hiding between the lines.

That’s why today’s post is a difficult one for me to write; a part of me is lurking in it. I don’t know if this will help anyone out there or if it’s just me unloading. But it needed to be written.

I wish you the best hope in your fight with Leuk and your struggles within.

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One thought on “The unspoken temptation

  1. Hi Jim – Here is a success story about a guy named Doug Blampied from Concord, New Hampshire, an insurance executive. During the summer of 1982 there was a hint of fatigue. He planned to sail around Nantucket & Martha’s Vineyard with his wife, Nancy. It went great, he was rested & refreshed, but when he came home, he couldn’t get his energy level back. He went back to work, thinking it was the flu or virus. But his fever wouldn’t go down, so he went to a doctor and found he had acute myologenous leukemia and cancer of the spinal fluid. He started chemo and a Hickman catheter was planted into his chest for the chemo and for blood to be withdrawn. He would wake up nauseated from the chemo and vomit sometimes five time a day. He could only bathe and use the toilet. He lost his hair and became very thin.

    He had a will to live. His wife was told to prepare for his death. He didn’t succumb to the idea of quitting. He had too much to do and wasn’t finished with living yet.

    After a month and a half in the hospital, he began to show some improvement and was sent home. He received chemo over eight months with severe reactions, including high fevers. He returned to work early in 1983, and monthly checkups showed his cancer was in remission.

    In April 1983, he underwent a bone marrow harvest. A hole was drilled into bone and marrow was extracted, which was treated with antibodies, frozen and stored. In June his count was rising. He was devastated. He found out that out of 50 patients treated with a bone marrow transplant, only a handful survived, so he passed on it.

    At a support group meeting he heard about a book, RECALLED BY LIFE. Encouraged about MACROBIOTICS, Doug and Nancy went to hear Michio Kushi speak. Upon coming home, they made some radical changes in their diet and lifestyle: from electric to gas stove and a complete MACROBIOTIC kitchen. Then they studied MACROBIOTIC cooking with a teacher in New Hampshire.

    His count dropped almost immediately and stayed down, a good incentive to learn to like the food. With his cancer in remission, he feels that he is in better health than he has ever been. Eight years later he felt that getting sick actually changed his way of life in many positive ways. “I am a stronger, better person now. I see myself as more sensitive and understanding, and less directed at unimportant things. I spend more time with my children. I hug them regularly, and let them know that I love them and how much they mean to me.”

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