Life With Cancer: Am I Sick, Lazy or Just Plain Tired?


Sometimes I feel lazy and berate myself instead of admitting that I am ill.

cartoon drawing of blogger and MDS survivor, Jane Biehl

I am sitting in my recliner looking around my apartment. I just ran some errands and took my dog on a half-mile walk. Mail needs to be sorted, wash needs to be done and dishes unloaded from the dishwasher. I am exhausted and want to do something. But my legs ache terribly from the dreaded chemo; I am out of breath and feel like I am walking through molasses.

I have this inner debate going through my head. I slept in this morning, getting nine hours of sleep. I paced myself while doing the errands. However, I am still whipped and drained. I tell myself that after all, I am sick and on chemo. Then I remind myself that I am a go-getter and do not want to be lazy and sit around all day watching television. But right now, that is all that appeals to me.

Back and forth I go – I have cancer, so I am not lazy, but tired; however, if I push myself, I can do more. Being tired is not an excuse. A long time ago I remember my mother telling me when I was working two jobs and frequently getting sick that I pushed until I collapsed, took a couple of days rest, and then started up again. I also recalled my family doctor telling me to slow down and when I got cancer and slowed down, he remarked it was too bad I needed cancer to do that.

I also know I come from a hard-working family with a strong work ethic. I pushed through in my younger days achieving four advanced degrees and having several great careers. So, I am not lazy. I am elderly at 72 years old. Being old does force us to slow down whether we like it or not. I have been fighting cancer for a long time and chemo does make all of us tired. No, I am not lazy, but I am ill with a nasty diseases and treatments that wear me out. Maybe I deserve to slow down and rest more. And you know what? The mail and the wash will be there tomorrow. I just need to remind myself of that.

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