The unanticipated responsibilities of the cancer patient


Quote: If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to see it, do the other trees make fun of it?You may think that having cancer is no big deal for me now. I’m stable, I’m active, and yes, I’m tired, but that’s the life of the leukemic. There are, however, some added responsibilities (burdens?) with this disease that no one warned me about.

Let’s take Sunday yoga, for example. I have been going to the same Sunday class for years, since long before I had cancer. This class was also the first I returned to after my leukemia diagnosis, when I was weak and frail and could barely stand let alone hold tree pose. (In case you were wondering, if a tree falls in yoga class, it takes other trees down with it.) J. attended my first few classes post leukemia to stop my tipping over.

Every single Sunday, I ignore the voice telling me I should stay in bed, however loud it is, and I head to yoga. The class starts and I often wonder how I’m possibly going to stay awake. But I’m there and I do my best and I usually feel better by the end.

Over time, I see many of the same people, and we gravitate toward our spots in the room. If a regular doesn’t show up, her (or occasionally his) spot often remains empty, assuming some unsuspecting newbie doesn’t fill it. Yesterday I was tardy to yoga. I arrived as class started, but not early enough to lay out my mat and settle in. Yes, I was one of those annoying yoga disrupters.

Lately I’ve been walking to the gym with my friend, C., who’s graciously assumed the task of ensuring I do not stray in front of moving vehicles. But C. did not have time to walk yesterday so I headed out late, walking solo. Let’s just say that when I arrive early to yoga, it’s because I’m with C; without her, I fall apart. By the time I arrived yesterday, I was so harried that I needed the calming class, thereby defeating my own purpose. Despite the full class, my spot was empty.

Before I had time to unroll my mat, I learned I had caused an uproar amongst my yogi peers. Despite our texts the day prior, C. feared I was still waiting for her to pick me up. Other friends chimed in. “We were worried about you!” “Thank God you made it!” “Here’s your equipment!” A friend who’s usually tardier than me (but never an annoying latecomer) had even texted to ask where I was. No matter that I was disrupting the whole class of fellow yogis, who were sitting calmly on their mats, ready to go.

Woman on yoga mat in half-moon poseThroughout the class, I thought about the upheaval I’d caused–no wonder I kept falling out of half-moon pose. (I often fall out of half-moon pose. It’s hard.) Talk about the kindness of friends. At the end of class, I again reassured everyone. “I’d never miss Sunday yoga.” I assume my buddies were actually worried I had mysteriously dropped dead. All the more motivation to arrive early to yoga in the future.

I live and breathe anxiety; the last thing I want to do is to add to others’ stress. Or lose my prime spot in class.


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