Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Saturday, January 14, 2017


Overwhelmed is a redundancy, I know. If you look up whelm in Merriam-Webster's, you'll find among the definitions that whelm and overwhelm are synonyms. (See bottom of this post for a cut-and-paste from the dictionary). So just think of all the over's you can now save the rest of your life--all the breath!

Still, I'm feeling more than whelmed as I think now about all the amazing responses to my post yesterday about my recent cancer news. Just a few bullet-points:

  • I heard from family members.
  • I heard from friends--all the way back to childhood.
  • I heard from former students I had my very first year of teaching (1966-67).
  • I heard from former students I had my very last year of teaching (2010-11).
  • I heard from former students I had in many of the intervening years.
  • I heard from former teaching colleagues, first year to last.
  • I heard from Facebook friends whom I've never even met.
  • I got numerous offers of help.
  • I got medical advice.
  • I got promises of prayers--many, many of these.
  • Someone named "Kelly" left a gift card for me at the coffee shop today. (I've got a half-dozen Facebook friends named Kelly--so I'm not sure who left this--but I am grateful.)
  • I got promises of visits.
  • I got Facebook posts, Facebook messages, email, even a text or two.
  • I got, well, overwhelmed. I can't tell you how many tears dropped from my old eyes, but ... too many to count. Enough to whelm a rain forest.
I can't answer them all--though I definitely tried to "like" them all--though "like" is a pathetically weak word for what I feel. I will try in the next few days to reply to as many as I can.

I've written here before that I do not write cancer-posts on my blog out of any desire to elicit sympathy (or coffee shop cards!) but because I have found writing to be among my most effective therapies. It's almost as if each word is a wee rail car that carries away from me a portion of my worry--and, at times, of despair. In plain, I feel better when I write. And so I write and write and write. The responses to it are often, well, overwhelming, but responses are not why I do it.  I would feel better even if no one read the posts--though I am full of gratitude for you who do--who take the time to write something of your own. It's humbling, enormously so.

And I am also aware that I am not alone in this Room of Illness. Many of you out there have dealt/are dealing with medical issues, as well--your own, those of loved ones. Some, I know, are deadly.

And--as I've also written here before--during my visits to the Cleveland Clinic (where all of this began) and to University Hospitals (where I now am)--I have been deeply affected by the people sitting in the waiting rooms with me--at the Clinic's Taussig Cancer Institute and UH's Seidman Cancer Center. So many people, of all ages, are suffering far worse than I right now. One of the damnedest things about this illness is that until later on, when it's fully metastatic, the disease is principally psychological. You know it's there--you know it's doing its foul business inside you, that you can only delay, not stop, it--but, for many of us with early metastatic prostate cancer, the illness has not become, well, an illness. We feel well enough to do many of the things we've always done. Though our minds remain full of hope-eating parasites.

Eventually, of course, the medications and other therapies will cease to work, and then, we know, the illusion of "wellness" dissipates, and the finish line becomes starkly visible.

But until then--as I wrote yesterday--I'm going to, as some of you put it, "keep on keeping on," and I'm going to remain grateful--for as long as gratitude is possible--for the lives and hearts of all of you.


a :  to cover or engulf completely usually so as to wreck or destroy :  bury, submerge
<sand all around them, about to creep up on them and whelm them — Mary H. Vorse>
<the avalanche whelms the mountain village in tons of snow>
b :  to engulf or overcome in the manner of a storm or flood with usually disastrous effect
<winter darkness whelms the woods>
<long afterwards whelmed in some European convulsion — G. M. Trevelyan>
<booming money … so fast that the problem was how to get rid of it before it whelmed you into suffocation — William Faulkner>
c :  to overcome in thought or feeling :  overwhelm
<had been so whelmed in astonishment that they had not lifted a finger to aid their chief — C. E. Craddock>
<drawn into overmastering passion, whelmed with a rush of joy and triumph — G. A. Wagner> 
<gathering around to whelm him with arguments>

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