Rebuilding After Cancer

I worked out at the gym again this morning with my trainer, Lance or, Lancelot, as I call him. Showered. Went to a coffee shop. Wrote for an hour and a half. Came home. Slept for three and a half hours.

Getting my physical strength and stamina back is a longer road than I thought and I get both down and pissed off about it then feel guilty because I’m alive and healthy while so many people who get cancer die. But there are times, today is one, when a small amount of exertion leads to major fatigue. And our workouts are very methodical. We go very slowly. We focus on breathing and rarely even use weights at this point. I feel a lot better than I did six weeks ago.

At this moment, though, I want to fucking scream. I’m tired of this shit. Chemo finished 14 months ago but the effects linger like a bad habit. I hate cancer. I despise cancer. It is a scourge. To kill cancer, physicians practically have to kill the patient. The treatment is barbaric.

The physicians I have talked to in the last several years have said cancer is “complicated.” Oh, wow. What a revelation. I was lucky. I had B cell lymphoma. They can actually cure that one. But most cancers, no. It’s “complicated.”

Hitler declared war on the United States on 11 December 1941. Roughly three and a half years later, American GIs pissed into the Rhine. Is cancer more complicated than that? Than winning World War Two?

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website:

4 thoughts on “Rebuilding After Cancer”

  1. Hang tough, Charles. It’s discouraging, and there’s nothing anyone can say except you do all of your fans proud. A pitcher for the Red Sox was diagnosed with the same cancer a couple of years ago. He underwent successful treatment, and is now one of the best in the major leagues. He’s talked about his struggle with intense fatigue and all the crap that goes along with treatment and recovery. It does get better, though how discouraging it can be waiting for it to get better is hard to imagine. I admire you on many levels, and I can only say there are people near and far who will help in whatever way possible.

  2. thank you, Lawrence. You’re the Latin teacher so drum into all your students: “carpe diem” since you never know what is going to happen. I think someone like Pliny the Elder said, “the only thing certain in life is that nothing is certain.” I’m still reading your book which I am enjoying although I’ve never going into those mountains without a company of panzer grenadiers.

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