Dr. Al Danenberg ● Nutritional Periodontist
July 15, 2019
My journey to fight my cancer has taken some ups and downs – both medically and emotionally. Rather than being a straight road, it has been a roller-coaster ride.
Medically, I have been on a path that has allowed me to keep my bone marrow cancer stable. Frequently, I have tweaked my protocol to hopefully improve my results. However, I am not in remission, and I never was in remission. While I have had a couple of setbacks, today I feel relatively alert, healthy, and energetic. One of my greatest joys is that I am surprising my oncologist and defying his original prognosis to live only 3-6 months from the date of my diagnosis in September 2018.
Emotionally, when I go down that roller-coaster, I can go way down. It’s rare, but once I’m there, I am a mess.
My biggest emotional challenge has been to deal with my innermost feelings. Sadly, when I am really down, my negative energy is contagious and spreads to those whom I hold dear. As this nostalgic song title claims, “You always hurt the one you love”.
Fortunately, I have found that writing is therapeutic. When I put into words how I feel – no matter how irrational those thoughts might be – I am able to bring myself back to a much better place. So, I want to share my recent experience that exposes the depth of my emotional weakness. I am opening myself up for all to see. Maybe this will be cathartic for someone who reads it.
To give you a heads-up, the outcome from this moment-in-time strengthened me. Right after I finished my writing, I felt better. Here is what I wrote only minutes ago:
I’m sitting at my computer. My fingers are clicking away. A story is developing. Thoughts are floating and bumping and getting out of proportion. Emotion is taking over rational thinking. I am depressed!
I’ve been a pillar of motivation through logical thinking, practical expectations, and a strong sense of purpose. But I’m human. And I get depressed at times. And I’m depressed now.
I’m not depressed because of my incurable bone marrow cancer. I never was in a state of denial. From the onset of my diagnosis and prognosis, I was OK with it. I knew I would be proactive with my unconventional protocol to deal with my disease. Whatever the outcome would be, I knew I would have done my best.
I’m not depressed with the thought of dying, since I am comfortable with my belief in the transition from the physical world into the spiritual world when it is my time. As a matter of fact, I feel blessed to know what I know. Realizing my bone marrow cancer is not curable and my life expectancy is limited, I can make amends as necessary, say good-bye to those I love, and delve into my bucket list ASAP. It’s as if I have been given a “heads-up” to get my act together now.
I’m not depressed because of pain because I have been able to deal with it through non-narcotic medicines. Although I have discomfort all the time, my quality of life has been good. I have no regrets. My outlook has been positive at least 95% of the time.
So, I ask myself, “Why am I depressed right now?” As I put more thought into the question, I come up with two causes – (1) abruptly leaving my wife alone after my death and (2) feeling I have little purpose left in life now.
I can trace both feelings back to when my wife and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary on 6/22/19. My emotions ran high then because we didn’t think I would have been alive on 6/22/19. Moments ago, the thought of leaving her alone overwhelmed me. This transferred to doubting my self-worth.
You just read my thoughts revealing my weakest emotional moment. Translating my feelings into words is empowering for me. Bringing these dark emotions into the light has immediately helped me deal with them more effectively. Instead of them festering within me, they are now diffusing and deactivating. My therapeutic writing is helping me climb out of my funk and return to my positive view on my mortality.
I hope the following is your takeaway after reading my post:
Everyone gets depressed at times. Some situations causing depression are more obvious than others. Some depression is deeper than others. Some factors are beyond your control to fix. Yet, if you can identify what is causing your “down” moment and speak about it or write about it, you may be able to rise above it quickly. For the most part, this is how I have dealt with my infrequent bouts of depression.
Next time, I’ll bring you less emotion and more practical stuff.
In good health,
 Song released by the Mills Brothers in 1944