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This is one of several essays from my private cancer journal. It is not intended as anything than a record of my states of mind as I struggled with the disease and the effects of the treatment.

Writing This Journal

man writing chinese caligraphy the next day
Wednesday, November 24, 1999

A bad night sleeping. It wasn't the pain but my mind. I couldn't stop thinking. And then the day wasn't much better. The pain came on too much and I couldn't work.

I began to think, why am I writing this? Who is it for? Is it to be my final day-by-day journal or a memoir? What do I say? Where do I start? What if I were to die the next day? Did I say what I should have said as some sort of "last message"? With that in mind, I started my Last Will and Testament because of what is truly important to me: my dog Mac and my cat Jack. I have to find them homes and that breaks my heart.

Later... Writing that will was too much. I finally had to stop. I couldn't do any more.


Thursday, November 25, 1999


Caren cooked a perfect Thanksgiving dinner: turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce (homemade) and gravy. I really don't need anything more. I wish it weren't my favorite dinner.

The rest of the day was spent watching TV with Caren. After being told that one is (probably) dying of cancer, you'd think one would make better use of their time than watching TV, wouldn't you?


Saturday, November 27, 1999

A good night of sleep, with a minimum of pain and discomfort. It's such a relief. I'm so tired of the pain. It has been with me for over a year and is exhausting.

Everyone has a standard by which they can tell how badly they are doing. It might be their appetite or having to sleep. Mine is writing. If I can't write, I know I'm not well.

For the past few days, I've tried to express what is going on but I don't have the energy or interest. I don't know what to say. I feel I should be saying something profound, if not worthwhile. I've been told I have cancer and I am assuming I might have a month or a few months to live and I can't even fight it. I should be changing my diet, taking in fruits and vegetables, drinking orange juice, but I'm not. I don't have the interest. Is it depression? Sounds like it. Hard to tell. Part of my problem is that I don't know what I need to stay alive for. That's one of the reasons I don't want to write.

I was sitting on the front porch this morning thinking that if I wrote what I felt (such as the above), it would sound too depressing and who wants their last message to be such?

I went on the Internet and saw the operation used for prostate cancer, and side effects. I don't know if I can handle that. Nor do I want to undergo chemotherapy where my body is pushed to the edge of death or radiation therapy with the hair loss and accompanying nausea. Thus the only alternative might only be more and more pain killers as the cancer takes over, until the system can't take any more. Are these the choices? If I had something I was truly fighting for, perhaps I would have the interest. Right now, I don't. Of course, I still have to get the final diagnosis but I can see it coming, the way I saw the news it was cancer. It won't be good news.

I wish I could write how I feel but I don't know if I want to leave such a legacy for those who want to see me dead, those who will celebrate it. For awhile - a few months back - I thought that alone would keep me going, to deny them that pleasure. But somewhere it was lost. Now I'm in a lose-lose situation.

I got a nice email from [my first wife] Toby today. I told her and asked her advice on telling the kids. We're going to kick it around a bit but I think I'll wait until the full diagnosis is in, so I can tell them more. But talking to her makes me want to write her more. I really have no one to talk to. It's not that I can't talk to Caren but she is so close to me here that it is too upsetting to her. Besides, there is something fitting in talking to Toby. We were married for 20 years and she didn't really do anything to deserve what I did to her.

And Brian called last night. I wrote him a couple of days ago about the cancer and he called to see how I was doing. Along the way he said, "You know, we have to talk about God some time," devout Christian that he is, he believes he has to convert me before I die. So I've tried to write him why I really don't want to talk about it and why I don't care to convert. I have my own spiritual orientation and it isn't Christianity. I don't know what it is or what to call it, since I built it myself. I hope I can write about it some time. That would be nice.


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This information is provided for educational purposes only and does not replace or amend professional medical advice. Unless otherwise stated and credited, the content of Phoenix5 (P5) is by and the opinion of and copyright © 2000 Robert Vaughn Young. All Rights Reserved. P5 is at <>. P5's policy regarding privacy and right to reprint are at <>.