It’s All Relative

AFP / Getty Images
Afghan photographer Massoud Hossaini wins 2012 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography for this shot of of a girl reacting to a suicide bombing.

Waiting patiently for my fingernails to fall off... Thanks chemo!

I came across this photo while in Toronto and it has stayed stuck in my head ever since.  As I fret about my fingernails that are about to fall off and the inconvenience of not being able to button Miss M’s sweater or open a pull tab can…  People all over the world are dealing with wars, dictatorships, horrific situations…  Seeing a picture like this reminded me that life could be so much worse.  It’s all relative.

Of course whenever I’m feeling upset and hubby pulls this tactic on me – agreeing that things may seem bad – but remember, it can always be worse – I don’t usually wanna hear it.  I just want to complain for a while.  Even though I know he’s right.  But these days I am consciously making an effort to be more centered, have more gratitude, and count my blessings.  Whether or not I’d be this way if my most recent scans didn’t turn out as well as they did – who knows?!!!?

Yes, cancer is forcing me to deal with some pretty heavy shit;  my own mortality, grim statistics, lifelong medical treatment, scans, drugs, procedures…  But in the here & now I have so much.  Freedom.  Love.  Support from all over the world.  The most amazing family and friends.  No worries about a bomb blasting beside me on my way to the market.  No one abusing me.  No one telling me how to live my life.

All of these thoughts were compounded after watching the movie Gone Baby Gone last night.  I was riveted.  Beyond my crush on Casey Affleck and the fact that the movie was filmed in Boston where my mom was born, I kept thinking about the millions and millions of kids out there with parents who don’t give two shits about them.  And then how much I absolutely adore Miss M.  And would do pretty much anything for her.  But of course as Maya Angelou says, “When you know better, you do better.”

But this doesn’t mean I can’t bitch about my nails, or my patchy baldness, or my low libido, or or my hot flashes, or the fact that cancer is taking me down a very difficult road…  I’ll bitch all I want.  As long as I don’t get stuck in it and let bitchiness and complaining run my life.

As long as I remember that it’s all relative.

Peace.  -T

10 Responses

  1. Just to let you know how much I appreciate your blog–there’s something about that I find heartening, for all of us, I think, whatever life situation we’re in.

    Best wishes to you and all your family.

    Carl Rosenberg
    Vancouver, BC

  2. As someone seriously and chronically ill for 20 years, I sometimes am ashamed of bitching: where is the “brave, plucky, positive” invalid I’m supposed to be?

    You remind me that it is not necessary to be perfect; not even close. I’m amazed at how quickly you figured that out ;-).

  3. Hi Terri,
    I truly have no idea if you’ll ever read this.
    Just everyone is wishing you well, and that very much includes me.
    The general impression you offer frequently is that you a) check the volume of mail and b) that you might also check the origins of the Email, and that’s it.
    I don’t believe I’m the only one who is frustrated by this. While I enjoy reading your entries, share with you many of the frustrations of dealing with physical details, emotional details, general events of a high and low level, your entries are not a book, where I write you a letter and you might respond. Though there are many following your trials and tribulations, responses come from us, your readers, on a highly personal basis.
    I do not think you should be required to do much and certainly not respond to every Email, but us people CARE–that’s why we write to you–and we would like to know that THAT is a two-way street.
    Cancer and its horrid treatments is on everyone’s mind here, as are you and your recovery, but it does seem like it should be more like a correspondence of sorts.
    I will always wish you the best and do what I can to be suportive, but I would very much like to know that I (and many others) are not being treated as merely numbers.
    With good wishes everywhere, Lee Pelley

    • Dear Lee Pelley, and everyone,

      Speaking as someone who has sent comments to Terri’s blog, and having some idea (without being able to fully comprehend, not having gone through it myself) all that Terri has to deal with, I don’t feel frustrated, or treated like a “mere number.” I’m sure that Terri appreciates all the supportive correspondence she receives.

      Best wishes,

      Carl Rosenberg
      Vancouver, BC

  4. Dear Lee,

    Wow!!!!! I am not sure if you are a “friend” of Terri’s or what, but who the hell are you? Why do you have the expectation of my cousin to write or email each time you send her an email/letter, when she is dealing with the most critical issue of health that any person can deal with? It’s apparent based on your post that you are not a friend, but someone extremely selfish! Can you imagine how she would be chained to her computer for hours on end if she responded to each and every comment, email, letter, or card? No one expects that from her. If YOU expect that, than your are a true dumb ass!!!

    As Terri was wonderfully “tactful” in her last blog,(Don’t Take it Personal), I don’t have to be. It is taking all that I can, to not completely cuss you out! I am family, and I don’t appreciate your bitching and moaning and claiming that we are “all” frustrated about not receiving a letter or a personal email from her! How dare you put that on everyone!

    She is humbly grateful and appreciative of all comments, cards, emails, love, and encouragement sent to her on a daily basis, and we all know that she is doing a damn good job being a new mother of a toddler, running a household, and trying to hold it all together dealing with the physical pain that she encounters with her diagnosis. We are extremely proud of her!!!

    So my friend, if you don’t have anything positive to say to Terri that will encourage her, and it’s obivious that you don’t, DO NOT post anything else on this blog! Our family does not need your negativity during this time.

    • OK.
      I said nothing at all like what you’ve both said.
      I said I didn’t think it possible that she answer every Email.
      I simply suggested in her communications that she acknowledge that she does READ what people write to her.
      She did THAT yesterday.
      EVERYONE is busy. EVERYONE has troubles, often major troubles.
      We people who become disabled (by cancer treatments or accidents or birth defects or whatever) tend to focus ENTIRELY on ourselves. It is good for all of us, as Terri said in her comments, to remember about people being blown up by surprise bombs, that there ARE other problems out here. It helps one to gain some perspective and to keep life from being overwhelming on only a personal level.
      I can barely believe my Email was so ridiculously misread.
      Take your hate elsewhere, please.
      Lee Pelley

  5. But this doesn’t mean I can’t bitch about my nails, or my patchy baldness, or my low libido, or or my hot flashes, or the fact that cancer is taking me down a very difficult road… I’ll bitch all I want. As long as I don’t get stuck in it and let bitchiness and complaining run my life.

    As long as I remember that it’s all relative.

    That’s so wonderful, and perfect, and wise….

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