“They’ve promised that dreams can come true- but forgot to mention that nightmares are dreams, too.–Oscar Wilde
As the world locks down around me, so too does it seem that I am running into a bit of trouble in the dream world as well.
Most nights, nightmares have replaced my normal dreams.
Dark dreams of despair and hopelessness.
Sometimes they are vague. Many dreams of inky black, sharply shaped creatures, tearing at me with their terrible black claws as they visit me in the night. They tear away my clothes and scratch at me until I am raked over with fine red lines on my pale white skin. No matter how bare I am, it’s never enough for them.
Other nights are worse, as I witness terrible things happen to those I love, most painful of all being dreams of Liam being wounded.
I relish the nights that these malevolent visions leave me be, as rare as they are right now. They do shine through like sunlight in a dark forest, giving me hope.
One sequence in particular keeps replaying. The dream usually starts off as something innocuous, like being at work or going to a movie. Something totally mundane…
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Cancer’s life is a recapitulation of the body’s life, its existence a pathological mirror of our own. –Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
When it comes to cancer, I am no stranger. Diagnosed with neuroendocrine carcinoid cancer at age 21, I know the terror and disbelief that comes with hearing the words “you have cancer”. I was fortunate in that my tumor was caught early enough, and surgical intervention cured me of the mass that threatened to engulf my pancreas. Some argue divine intervention on that front, but I just say it’s dumb luck.
Cancer, biologically speaking, has been an indiscriminate killer for as long as cell lines have existed. At any point, any cell in your body can go rogue and become cancerous. In fact, it might happen regularly, but for those with healthy immune systems, the natural killer cells in the body immediately recognize and destroy the abnormal cells. When this system is affected, cancer strikes. I could go on for ages about oncogenesis and the history of cancer, but there are far smarter people who have written many a book on the subject. The Emperor of All Maladies is one of my favorite books on the subject, and was also turned into a solid documentary available on Amazon Prime. I urge you to watch that, and The Way of All Flesh, a documentary about the unsung heroine Henrietta Lacks, for amazing insight into the strides we as a species have made in the battle against cancer.
Leading up to my diagnosis, I had dreams that would ultimately predict the location and size of my cancer, but that’s another story for another day. Tonight, I write about a different dream from two nights ago that has me scratching my head.
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