My Second Fear

(Dictated by Dru to Art)


Everyone suffers cancer differently. I have no idea if my experience is typical, but it doesn’t really matter. I promised in this blog to tell the truth, and today my truth is about two fears that torment me.


First, I’m afraid of the disease, what cancer is doing to my body. That goes without saying, I suppose. I have pains in my chest and in my back that are persistent. To give you some idea of what this is like, imagine your bones are being broken. All it takes is a deep breath and you begin to break up inside. A deeper breath and something will explode out of you. Oddly enough this physical pain is easier to deal with than my second fear, partly because this first fear makes sense. I have a disease inside my body that will kill me. There’s something concrete and graspable about that, which is almost reassuring.


I can’t grab hold of my second fear. It has something to do with what I call “me,” or others call their “soul” or “essence.” This fear has just recently sprung up and seems to have come out of nowhere. It feels like a fist clenched behind my belly button, clenched and slowly twisting, cutting off my air. At night it attacks my whole being and takes over my consciousness until it feels like its conquered me. Sometimes I wish it would conquer me, put an end to all this, make it finally be over. This fear often escalates to terror and it feels impossible to escape. It pursues me down the hours of the night. It frightens me with an intensity I’ve never experienced before.


So I can deal with the first fear: that cancer is here, moving forward, spreading throughout my body; that it can only be arrested, not stopped. Yes, I’m afraid of my cancer, but I can visualize it, know its movement, and understand something of how it works. I know doctors will temporarily keep my cancer at bay with radiation treatments and chemotherapy.


My second fear will not be kept at bay nor can I run away from it.


I wish I could believe in God and Heaven in the straightforward way a friend of mine with cancer does. She has no panic attacks and isn’t afraid to die because she knows that there is another, better, pain-free, fear-free world on the other side of this one. If I could believe in such a god, I wouldn’t expect he, she or it to take away my cancer. But I would ask– I would plead– for this second fear to disappear. If this all sounds confusing and inchoate, then welcome to where my head and heart are now.


This morning, after I suffered an awful night of fretful fitful sleep, Art nestled closer to me in bed and encouraged me to talk about my suffering, try to describe it, locate it. He urged me to penetrate the workings of my mind– to find what was really happening underneath my thoughts and words. And then he said something so simple and powerful that it might lead me to a clearing where I can deal with this second fear. He said, “Remember, it’s cancer that will kill you, not your fear. Your fear will torment you and make you miserable, but it won’t kill you.”


I hadn’t thought of that.


By seeing my second fear this way, I think I’ve gained a little clarity. But I know I’m far from the peace of mind I long for. I’m sure I’ll spend many more sleepless nights before I come to the other side. But tonight I’ll remember my fear can’t kill me. Maybe I’ve found a little clearance in the chaos, a space on which to stand my ground.

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20 Responses to “My Second Fear”

  1. Allan Buck says:

    Fear in any form is something we create from the mind. The Spirit Within you has no fear. Intuition, that gut feeling that is never wrong, that is your Spirit Within you are born with. Tranquility does not come from meditating with the mind, tranquility comes from hearing the silence of your Heart, your Spirit.

    May I share with you a little story about my Grandpa Tait, a man of Spirit. One week before he passed on, he told the entire family the night it would occur and how it would occur. He told the family not to be mournful but to be cheerful. He was so tranquil in Spirit that it positively affected the family. Yes we were saddened but we rejoiced in his peace that he shared with us.

    We are given challenges to be met, each unto the other. You, like so many others have been given a rough and tough challenge. You, like so many others are a rough and tough Spirit that rises up to the challenge. Have no fear, let not chaos live in your realm, rather be like the Cheshire Cat and grin from ear to ear rejoicing in the wonderful life you live, the wonderful husband you have and the wonderful family and friends you have. Rejoice in living. May the Winds of the Seven Directions bring to you the tranquility of your Spirit Within

  2. Christine Ashworth says:

    Oh honey. I understand what you mean about the whole God and Heaven issue. While those aren’t my beliefs, I do believe whole-heartedly in Spirit. I don’t believe in harps and fluffy clouds-type of heaven, but I do have this undying belief that something happens on the other side. Maybe it’s just peace. I don’t know.

    But it sounds like Art has a wise soul, and I’m glad he found the right words when you needed them.

    Sending love and hugs.

  3. Ellen Siemens says:

    I think of you often and miss, miss, miss you on the occasional Friday, when you’d come to Lark and Ft. Stockton. Yesterday I continued my growing up and am now “deep” into my 33rd year. It has warmed my heart to find you once again in Mission Hills after knowing you from my PB/La Jolla days ;~) I’m going to purchase (I only own the VCR, so I need to reach Guy at Kensington Video and ask him for the small disc) “Resurrection,” with Ellen Burstyn, Sam Shepherd and the Oscar nominated Broadway theater actress Eva LaGallienne. “I like to keep my goodbyes private.” That is my favorite movie of all time because it forever changed my belief about death and dying and brought me peace, which I believe will exist untouched as it is today, even when it is my turn. My worst fear for you, and it really isn’t a fear at all, is that you remember to retain the same friends … AND/or enjoy the heck out of the new ones. I had my dearest friend of 25 years find others that were along her breast cancer path, and we were friends no longer. I think similar things happened to my own friends in 1981, so who am I to talk! Hopefully the “drop/add” action on her part became extremely soothing and brought peace to her. It left me in a horrible wake for quite some time. Friendships, alas, are always about forgiveness, understanding and compassion. I knew my love and admiration for her was still intact when I finally felt little and nothing of loss for myself and incredible joy for all her new friends, and for her. I trust she is happy beyond belief today. And I send blessings of the same for you on your path. Meanwhile, I’m going to send over “Resurrection” with Judy (if she’s willing) for your consideration (ahem, with a wink and a smile). Return it if you wish, especially with your thoughts, if you choose to watch it. Oh, to have a beloved to snuggle with!!! In The Fellowship of the Spirit, Ellen Siemens down on Palmetto

  4. Anne Ferguson says:

    As I read this, I realize that, although I can’t put an end to the cancer that is hurting someone who has been in my life since I was a little girl, I can try and help with the fear you describe. Actually, that is the ONLY thing over which any of us has any control. You included. You can’t STOP something as big as cancer but you CAN allow your friends to help with the fear. We all feel helpless and wish we could stop the cancer or pray hard enough to make it go away but in all reality, all we can do is be there for you, WITH you, to help you be less fearful. I remember right before I had brain surgery, knowing that there was a chance I might never wake up, knowing they were about to saw into my brain…I remember being so fearful and alone as I lay in the operating room awaiting surgery. I told myself that I had no control. I’d either make it or I’d die. So I found peace in that. I wouldn’t waste my last moments shaking in fear. Because it wouldn’t change the outcome. And if I were to die I had to be at peace with that. Fear wouldn’t change it. It was in knowing that all the people who loved me were waiting for me upstairs that took away my fear. And knowing that whatever afterlife was waiting would have to do. I had no control. I think it was when I finally gave UP control that I found peace. Let us help you be less fearful. By knowing how much so many of us love you and pray for you, may you find peace and be less fearful. The fear that consumes you is all any of us really has any control over. And that’s the ONLY thing you can share with us and in doing so, it allows us to feel like we’re helping in some small way. Because God only knows, as we watch you go through this…we all feel incredibly helpless. I love you, Aunt Dru.

  5. Sharon Gilfillan says:

    You amaze me my beloved Drusilla. Such intimate details
    you’re not just able to put into words. – but are brave willing
    and able to share with us. I believe without doubt that when
    you make your ultimate transition that all your questions will
    be answered. I know you will be safe. I will not have a drop
    of fear grief or regret for you. My incalculable grief will be for
    me and the so so many who will lose you for now.

  6. Barbara says:

    I’d be scared shitless too.

  7. Diane Hoskins says:

    I am an aspiring writer and I have been reading your blog…right now, my heart is pounding within me because a feel like the answer to your fears is so near, so close and I want to be able to convey it in a way that you might receive it! God is real and He loves you….it doesn’t matter what you have done or believed in the past, He is still making Himself available to you. His Word is filled with encouragement and glimpses into eternity…he calls out to us in many ways throughout our life, but He is a gentle God and will not force Himself on us…we must make a choice whether to believe Him and accept the eternal life with Him that He offers us. He also makes it clear that accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior is the way…Jesus declares that “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life…He who believes in Me will have eternal life.” There are three things that may help you as they have helped countless others…the book “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis, who was an atheist for many years and presents a scholarly approach to answering questions…the book “Heaven is for Real” which is a current best seller about a 3 year old boy who returned from an experience knowing things about people he saw in heaven that he could not known otherwise…and, saving the best for last, read the gospel of John in the New Testament…just a few chapters and they may change your life and destiny…Thank you in advance for letting a stranger read and comment…

  8. Susan McBeth says:

    Drusilla, you are so courageous to share your thoughts as you walk this fearful journey. Much love and blessings to you!

  9. Sandra Younger says:

    Sending you love, Dru.

  10. Laurel Corona says:

    Dru–from your perspective, you are wracked by fear. From the perspective of those observe you through what you write, you are one kick-ass woman.

  11. Chrissie A says:

    “A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows.”
    ~~ St. Francis of Assisi ~~
    Sending you many sunbeams Dru <3

  12. Jane Gorman says:

    I too have chronic lung disease fueled by lieo-myo sarcomas that migrated from a 2 lb tumor that has been removed which was on my vena cava…the vena cava was also removed. This was 2 years ago. My longevity is questionable. I found that before my life saving surgery that I had no regrets. I was able to review my life and cherish every event and knew if I didn’t survive I would be at peace. I live each day cherishing the smallest things, nature, the environment in which I live. To me this is heaven and there is no other place to match the beauty and wonder which is presented to me every day. I have an anxiety drug given by my Oncologist for times when I become overwhelmed, usually night. Lorazepam 1 mg. helps me get a deep, peaceful rest each night so I can enjoy the new day for all it’s worth. Cancer fuels on fear. Don’t think about the fear, only the beauty of life.

  13. Kate says:

    Hello Dru,

    From what you shared, I felt a glimpse of it (with you). That’s to say I was aware of being near you in the fear. I know I have the good fortune, for today, of only being ‘near’ yours, but I hope that Art’s words and what they may inspire in you, do, “bring you to the other side.”

    I’m keeping you in my heart and thoughts.

    Love, Kate

  14. Lisa Wood says:

    Dru: Art has credited you with making him a better person. His role in helping you deal with your fear is remarkable. You continue to bring out the best in him, and in all of us. I so very much wish you didn’t have to go through this, but you do it with such grace and insight.

  15. Lisa Wood says:

    Thank you.

  16. Bill says:

    Hi Dru.

    I’m a friend of Art’s. You and I met perhaps twice over the last 30 years. Anyhow, I will not pretend to know what it’s like to contract cancer, but your entry about “fear” certainly resonated with me. I have known fear – even what to me felt like horror and terror – it was life-threatening, mind-numbing and soul-draining. Sometime after it passed, it occurred to me that fear is an “effect” in the cause-and-effect sense of the term. More importantly, I came to the astonishing conclusion that PRESENT fear is always the result of events that are in the FUTURE, never events that are past and done. Yes, I have post-graduate education; how could you tell?

    So here’s what I’m getting at: have you ever tried to work up a fear over events past and done, like passing your first driving test, or graduating from high school, or whether the Chargers will beat the Bills in the game played two days ago? I dare you to try. “Yeah, so what?” Glad you asked! What if we could take the CAUSE of our present fear [whatever it is] and put it in the PAST with all the other “done-and-over” events that CANNOT rattle us? If it – the CAUSE of fear #2 – was in the rear-view mirror (and flat dead since we ran over it) but no longer out in front of us in view through the windshield – it’d be road-kill instead of road-hazard. Perhaps in theoretical quantum phsysics such an “event time swap” could be drawn up on the chalkboard. Bear with me here, Dru.

    Now I’m no physicist, theologian or preacher, but this is exactly what Jesus meant when He said this: “He who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me, HAS [NOW, not someday in the future] everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment [the underlying “cause” of fear #2?], but HAS PASSED [there it is – put in the past!] FROM DEATH INTO LIFE.” John ch. 5 vs. 24. Don’t ask me how He does it, but when we receive Him as the free gift that He is [Art’s a lawyer; have him draft up a receipt], Jesus takes all that makes death bad and scary FROM the future, and puts it behind us, back into in the PAST, in the rear-view mirror, back there with our first driving test, high shcool graduation, and the Chargers-Bills game played last Sunday. This may sound preposterous and crazy, but it’s true nonetheless, and I can persoanlly testify to its efficaiousness. If you haven’t already, give Him a test-drive; I have, and now He and I laugh at the stuff in the rear-view mirror, including death, driving tests, high school and the Chargers!

    Best regards

    “Roadkill” Billy

    • Bill says:

      With a name like “Roadkill” Billy, I expected to find far more spelling/typing errors – I only counted four!

  17. Willy Pete says:

    Hi Dru,
    I don’t know you, but I heard of your plight through a mutual friend. I read of your fears and I would like to tell you of two different friends of mine that went through a life threatening event, both within a few months of each other.
    The first had a bike accident 8 years ago. He hit his head, didn’t think much about it, threw up later that night, and then didn’t seem to have any problems for 8 years. Finally, he started noticing things were not right with his hearing and within days, he could not speak. They ran tests and found that he had a blood sac / tumor on his brain that was squeezing his brain.
    The second friend is in pretty good shape. He hikes regularly and watches what he eats (most of the time). One day he started having chest pains. He thought it was probably indigestion. His wife convinced him to go to the hospital. They scheduled him the next day for a stress test which he failed. They ran some tests and found he had a blocked artery to the heart.
    Now for the part that I think pertains to you. In both of these friends, they told me almost the same story. They said they had always thought that if they were faced with such a life and death situation, that they would have been terrified. But… what they experienced was far different. They both said that through it all, they were unbelievably calm, so much so that they felt guilty about it. You see, both of these friends have turned their lives over to Jesus Christ. The one friend that couldn’t speak during his ordeal said he could still think very clearly. He said he felt this very real tangible presence that gave him comfort in knowing all was well.
    The Bible says, “Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” Psalm 34:8. I urge you to taste and see that Jesus truly is the answer to this fear that is inside of you. If you don’t know what it takes to make him your Lord and Savior, all you have to do is believe in him. Believe that he paid the price for your sins. His punishment on the cross was so that you could experience eternal life with him in heaven. It is a very simple thing to do and it will give you peace. Trust in Jesus and you will not be disappointed.
    May God give you comfort as you go through this chapter of your life.

  18. Lee says:

    Drusilla, thank you for sharing your deepest thoughts. You have touched not only my life but also my daughter’s life. We have been praying for you and will continue to do so. We ask that our Father God grant you peace and comfort. I’v been a believer in God and Jesus Christ for over 50 years. I can’t prove there is a heaven but I trust and have faith that there is. I’ve come to terms that ultimately I will only know when my time on this earth comes to an end. I can only offer you unconditional love and support as you travel on this journey.