It’s a Mads, Mads World

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Writer’s Note – I’ve been on an extended hiatus for about three months.  So, I first want to say “Thank You” to all of you who continue to stop by and check out my blog.  This blog and several to follow have been accumulating in my head for quite a while.

September 28, 2014 – I decided to “visit” a friend today via Facebook.  I had not communicated with this Internet friend in almost three months and felt a bit guilty about it.  (As I stated in several earlier posts, this past summer was a bit of a bear for me both physically and emotionally.)  My guilt instantly skyrocketed upon seeing his FB wall.  Mads was dead.  He died at the end of June when he lost his battle with melanoma.

I never met Mads, who was originally from Denmark, but we “connected” through one of several Facebook and Internet groups of melanoma patients (and survivors).  That relationship began in October 2013, shortly after I began my treatment for metastatic melanoma.  We would “chat” through the groups or on message boards, and, eventually, became Facebook “friends.”  At that time, Mads was living in Houston and being treated at MD Anderson.  Unfortunately, his prognosis was not as good as mine, which, at times, became evident in his questions about treatment regimens and life expectancy.

Goodbye to my friend…

It’s a positive part of today’s Internet “world” that complete strangers, in different parts of the country, with nothing else in common but an incurable disease, can connect and feel empathy for one another with a couple of key strokes. While that may seem like a blessing to those who are not able to get-around and meet others, it also – in my mind – creates a dilemma for folks like me who value the human element of life.  I want to be able to interact with others.  To sit, to talk, to laugh or cry.  Even talking over the phone is more intimate than “chatting” online.  I hope we don’t someday find ourselves having “virtual” funerals because no one knows how to interact face-to-face.

As time marched on, I got lazy and preoccupied with my own world and all the day-to-day nonsense that clogs up our days, weeks, and months.  It’s one of the saddest aspects of life that we never truly “stop to smell the roses.”  So, I was not even aware that Mads had died or that his close friends and family continued to maintain his Facebook page.  I was sad.  It’s such a shame that someone so relatively young has passed away too soon.

Which brings me to another dilemma I face every time I’m on the Internet – How much do I really want to know?  Yes, I’m part of several melanoma “groups.”  Yes, I get email and FB alerts about my disease on a daily basis.  But how much time and emotional energy do I want to spend on knowing the sadness that occurs when another “melanoma warrior” has lost his battle?  Frankly, I sometimes just want to bury my head in the sand and say, “Enough!”

I think I feel a bit of survivor’s guilt, knowing that my treatment regimen has given me an opportunity to live for (hopefully) many more years.  The folks I read about in our groups have not much hope or time to continue being in this world.  And that’s just sad…very, very sad.

I know I have a lot to be thankful for…but I’m just not very happy right now.

I just found out I lost another friend……..and it sucks!