Picture of Peggy CummingPeggy Cumming, is a wife, mother, grandmother of 6, sister, niece, cousin and friend, as well as a teacher – retired after 34 years in the classroom – and an athlete, currently in training for major surgery

I’m Pissed Off!
I’m really, really Pissed Off! It isn’t Fair!
Shall I tell you how I really feel???

There, I’ve said it out loud, and in black and white!

Here’s the story of how these two urchins finally penetrated my stability barricade.

Recently, I had my ‘Pre-op’ appointment at the General Hospital. This was a day where ten soon-to-be lung surgery patients were being prepared. First, we had an excellent two hour presentation by a nurse, called ‘Lung Surgery Education’, giving all the details of preparation for the surgery, what to expect during the surgery day, and recovery both in the hospital and at home. Then, individually, we met with a pharmacist, a nurse and an anaesthetist. The purpose was to exchange clinical information and also possibly provide an opportunity for the staff to assess our level of craziness! Would each of us be a compliant patient, or a difficult one?

At my final meeting with the anaesthetist, she did a thorough clinical question-and-answer session, again asking for my previous experience under anaesthetic, and telling me what to expect.

She ended with, “Do you have any questions?”

My burning concern about all of my upcoming treatment has been, “What will my lung capacity and lung function be after 25% is removed?”

“I read in the report that you are a champion swimmer ( a bit of an exaggeration, but, hey, I’ll take it!), but I doubt that you will be again.”

Although some part of my sub conscious already knew this, I had not yet heard it spoken out loud, and tears welled up.

“You are entitled to feel pissed off. It is not fair.”

I hesitated and stared in disbelief. “But I’ve tried so hard to stay positive, to be grateful that you are saving my life!”

“It’s OK,” she continued. “You can be both grateful and pissed off at the same time!”

And there it was – permission to be pissed off. That was huge! An albatross was lifted and I was free to acknowledge that I really am pissed off! And it really isn’t fair!

Unfair? At age 70, I am not overweight, have never smoked, exercise regularly, eat loads of fruit and veggies, get my flu shot and take vitamins. I follow all the ‘Stay Healthy Rules’. As far as I have read, I have only one risk factor for lung cancer: previous radiation therapy for breast cancer.

Check. As my tumours are on the same side as the radiation, I must acknowledge that as a possible cause. But does that make it fair?

I’ve had enough cancer education, exposure and experience to know that cancer is simply not fair. It is a crap shoot, a random beast that attacks whoever and whenever it pleases. And now, at this point on my journey, my rational knowledge and my positive attitude is finally allowing some negative emotion. Suddenly, those indignant urchins, Pissed-off and Not-fair, have successfully clawed their way into my consciousness, clamouring to be acknowledged. Loud. Attention seeking. Demanding. And thanks to permission from my anaesthetist, I now know I can express them, supported by Acceptance, Gratitude and Hope.

Ask me how I am these days, and you’ll likely hear, “Pissed off!…
…And grateful.”

Peggy has her own photoblog, the F-stops here, where she posts a photograph every day.