Saturday, September 7, 2013

Cancer, Learning, Grief, Grandpa

We've been learning everything about Neuro lately, and the past day or so I've been focusing on neoplasms of the CNS and related structures. So, brain, spinal, and peripheral nerve cancers. I didn't anticipate this being as tough for me as it has been.

You see, my grandpa passed away this past spring. His cause of death was mostly complications due to multiple foci of metastatic cancer in his brain. Though dozens of tumors were also present in his chest and abdomen, the cause of death was the cancers spreading and swelling in his brain. With his death and funeral still fresh in my mind, it takes on a very different feel to be now learning about how cancers can move to and grow in the brain, the symptoms that they can cause, and what the brains of the deceased look like when riddled with cancer. When I'm presented with images like the one below, it's hard to not think of that brain as Grandpa's brain.

This one is particularly rough for me - the caption read:
"Coronal section showing multiple metastatic neoplasms at the junction of gray and white matter."
Death is such a strange thing, and the closeness of this domain content to my own personal loss is hitting me very hard. It's one thing to contemplate the idea of death, and the blanket statement of how "everyone is going to die someday." It's something completely different and strange to need focus on and learn the intricate details about the disease that caused someone close to you to die. Feelings of grief and loss well up unexpectedly, shattering concentration. This grief is still a tender thing for me, not easily wiped away or swept under the rug when it resurfaces.

I'm still learning how to work through things like this without bringing up feelings of sadness and personal loss. I need to figure out how to study this without thinking about the fact that I can't talk to my grandpa on the phone anymore, how I can't ask him any more questions about my ancestors and where I come from. It has helped quite a bit to write these feeling out here; maybe it will be easier for me to move past them for a time. I never anticipated this blog as being something therapeutic in any way, but there it is. I suppose it's all part of this "Transformation," which in the whole purpose to the blog in the first place... Thanks for reading.

1 comment:

Susan said...

I'm all over again, sorry for your loss, Justin. The experiences you deal with in med school certainly take you to far different realms resulting in far different emotional confrontations. These matters of the heart, and moving through them, will be a huge, positive factor to the doctor you will be in the very near future. It's good you "face off" with the feelings by working through them. Good for you! Chin up ��

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