“Don’t Give Up”

20 Jan


This is the angry post I wrote last Wednesday.  I still don’t feel like today is the day to post it; but I know the longer I wait, the less likely it is that I will ever put it up to be read.  I think it is an important document.  In the next few days, expect a post about the the best weekend of my life…  Jay


I got pissed off today.  Although I was quiet about it.  I’ve been working on a version of this topic for awhile, but today’s conversation helped me finish it.

“Do you know about or are you considering alternative treatment?”  Of course I know about alternative treatments.  I know you can go to Mexico and hang out in a beautiful resort having coffee enema’s.  I know you can go to a place in Utah where you are put in a box, (probably looks like a coffin), and your body is heated to dangerous temperatures.  Why do that?  Because the heat will kill the cancer cells.  Rubbish!

Food is a big part of the alternative treatment.  I’m sorry but kale is not going to cure my cancer.  Neither is breastmilk, which I have been offered.  I do believe there are foods that  will help to prevent cancer, but I don’t believe any combination of food would kill the giant tumor growing in my lung.  So as my appetite lessens, what do I eat?  Lots of cold cereal.  It is the perfect food for me right now.  Adrienne bought me a wide variety of cereals.  I’m happy I can still eat!

Number 2. I have had many well meaning friends say to me, “Don’t give up,” and “never stop fighting.  This is your cue of what not to say to people who are dying.

First let me tell you about “don’t give up.”  My body is not giving up.  All of our bodies make decisions about what parts to send blood and oxygen to and which processes can wait.  Mine is doing that now.  My energy is being conserved by resting and sleeping.  Soon, other actions will slow; but my body is not giving up; it’s fighting to keep me alive, (Cue “Eye of the Tiger”).  I’m pretty impressed with my body.  Did you know that hearing is the last sense you lose?

Second, “Don’t stop fighting.”  This is statement makes me livid.  In the last three and a half years, I’ve done nothing but fight.  When I was first diagnosed, I would end up on breast cancer boards.  All the women followed their names with a list of what kind of cancer they had and the treatments and surgeries they endured.  I thought it was weird.  Now I get it.  Your list shows how brave you are; how much you have fought through and how you are still fighting.  I love to write mine.  Here is a short version:

Four surgeries, one ending in a permanent colostomy, one ending with me losing a big chunk of my chest wall and three ribs.  I’ve lost track of how many chemo treatments I had.  Somewhere in the low twenties.  If you add up all the time spent dealing with side effects, that is a lot for a body to deal with.  Fifty five radiation treatments.  Twenty five on my ass.  Even with the tumors growing now, that time was the most pain I have ever felt in my life.  The other thirty were aimed at my chest.  I have the tattoos to prove it.  Here’s a few more: three port surgeries, two colonoscpies, two other hospitalizations, countless blood tests, scans, mri’s, a PICC line…

So there is my list.  Besides the eight months when we thought I was cancer free, the last three years and seven, yes seven not six, months, I have been in some sort of treatment.  I have fought for every day of every week, especially for the last two years.  Soon I will fight for every hour of every day, but I will still be fighting for a little bit more.

Phew.  Then I sat in the bathtub and thought this through.  Whenever someone says these things to me, I have to do a whole self inventory to make sure I didn’t give up.  That’s tedious.  I know I never gave up.  I accepted what was coming.  Now, I’m not here to psychoanalyze anyone.  But it seems fear of death may have something to do with the comments I hear.

I believe the dates of our deaths are set.  I’m not running from Mr. Death or the grim reaper.  As the Earth rotates, my date and I move closer together.  Not to be a party pooper, but it is happening to all of us.  I am not scared of my date.  My body and I will keep fighting until we meet. And the timing will be perfect.


Posted by on January 20, 2014 in Uncategorized


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5 responses to ““Don’t Give Up”

  1. ruthie rubin

    January 20, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    Beautiful, thank you Jay. You are an amazing person. I feel blessed to have “met” you on my computer. I feel you speak for me and for the world some basic truths.

  2. Naptimewriting

    January 20, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    It always sounds as though the suggestions of what to eat and what to try and what to do imply, “you are not doing enough, you are part of the problem.” Seems like a really shitty thing to say to someone with cancer.
    Enjoy your cereal!

  3. Loi Hansen

    January 21, 2014 at 1:09 am

    Dear Jay….I am sooooo glad you finally decided to post this!!!! AMEN! You said it PERFECTLY!!! . (I have spent at least a half an hour in an attempt to respond to ‘what people say to you’, but simply nothing to add to what you said so well !
    . Continued Love to you and your family and THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR EFFORTS TO POST!! It is VERY appreciated!!

  4. missmelblack

    February 17, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    When I first read this I was expecting much more angriness ( that doesn’t look spelled correctly but spell check says so. One of my pet peeves, misspelled words ) I think people over think too much about what to say, we don’t want to say the wrong thing.
    Remember 2 – 3 weeks into our Senior year of high school, my cousin, Justin was murdered. When I came back to school it was like I had no friends. Everyone was scared to talk to me. I remember walking alone outside at lunchtime, wondering WTF, I HAVE TONS OF FRIENDS AND NOW THEY ABANDON ME?? I know now everyone was just too afraid. Its weird how people react to dying. Must somehow be our own fear or fear of having to think about it.

    • jaydeyoung

      February 18, 2014 at 3:26 pm

      I think that’s true. I remember so vividly coming to school after Justin was killed. I thought about you all the time and probably didn’t say anything. You are right, sometimes saying the wrong thing, or even just a hug is the right thing.


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