Everything Makes Sense Downrange - The Uncomplicated Singularity of Purpose When Fighting Cancer

The other day, I heard someone say something and it caught my ear. It was one of those things where when you hear it, you suddenly realize, “oh wow, those are the perfect words for what I’m trying to describe.” I had been wanting to write this blog for a while but I just couldn’t find the right words to put it succinctly, and, then suddenly, as if delivered from on high, there it was. “Everything makes sense downrange.”

The whole thing started when I was speaking with someone about being the hospital for a prolonged period of time, and they said, “oh it must have been awful!” I stopped for a second, and I really thought about it and responded, “yes, it was – mostly, but there’s a certain way that being in the hospital, fighting for your life, uncomplicates everything else. In some ways, there’s an ‘easiness’ about it... I’m probably not making sense.” After I said it, I smiled and changed the subject. I realized the person was just trying to be nice and I had dumped them into the conversational equivalent of quicksand made of math tests. As I laughed it off though, I instantly realized how true it was and how much I felt that way, especially now that I am squarely back into my “normal life.”

The simplicity of fighting cancer

Now, I know this might be controversial to some, and I totally get why – being in the hospital, life and death struggles, huge bills – these are all objectively horrible things that no one should ever have to experience. That’s more or less as unassailable a conclusion as pizza is delicious and Coke is better than Pepsi (Yes, I know I’m opening myself up to 500 comments of “Pepsi Rocks!!” Too bad, you heathen Pepsi lovers).

I’m not here to dispute that those things are horrendous, I’m not, but I now realize that there is, on a certain level, a simplicity of purpose that comes with fighting cancer that, well, can be enviable when compared to the chaos that most days in “normal” life throws at you.

When your only job is to beat cancer

Think about it – what’s your one main job when you are in the hospital with cancer? It’s to beat that cancer, to survive, to make it to the next day, week, month. That’s it, it’s as black and white as Captain Jean Luc Picard being ten times a better captain than James T. Kirk. (Make it so.)

It’s your one quest if you will, and all other concerns fall by the wayside. Romantic issues – on hold. Financial concerns – pushed to a later date. Social issues – LOL. Not only that, but it’s one of the few times that the people on the other end of your “everyday” problems more or less have to allow for you to shirk those responsibilities. I mean when you tell work, “oh I’m fighting for my life with cancer,” you’d have to have the absolute mother of all horrible bosses if they said, “oh, sooooo.. I guess you’re not coming in then? Well, I’ll have security pack up your stuff, don’t bother coming back. Also, we ate all your food in the fridge and burned all the pictures in your office.” (I mean, that last part I figured if they were evil enough to fire you they’d probably go the whole nine. In Hell. Where you apparently worked.)

The point is, you only have to focus all your energy on beating it and every single person in your life understands. How often in our lives do we have that level of solidarity in a singularity of purpose?

Real life and its silly problems

Fortunately, the day finally comes when you have reached the end of your cancer hospital journey, or at least the first and most dangerous leg of it, and it’s time to start a return to “normal” life. We all know about the monster size tidal wave of piled up responsibilities that immediately inundates you when you open that particular Pandora’s box, but what happens after that?

Well, everyday life begins to fling it’s chaos slime all over you once again – this person is mad at you for not coming to their dumb cat’s birthday party, that bill collector called again even though you paid the stupid thing, the light on your car’s dashboard that looks like a genie’s lamp is on again (I know it means oil, it’s called comedic effect) – all the silly problems of real-life are back again and they all seem so insignificant and annoying compared to what you went through. Everything becomes so complicated again that it’s OK to crave that uncomplicated pureness of mission that came with fighting cancer, we all feel it in some small way.

As I said at the start, this is a complicated and potentially divisive issue, and I needed to find the perfect compact way to phrase it. That’s why when I heard it, I knew. It’s exactly what we experience – when you are fighting that fight and nothing else, you know who the enemy is and where to point your effort. “Everything makes sense downrange.” Talk soon.

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