Why do we fight?

Now here is something a little personal. And no, this post isn’t about sex – although I could go on about that as well. But today is about fighting.

One and a half years ago, Zsolt and I promised to be loyal to one another. We promised for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, and to love one another till death do us part.

But we never promised not to fight.

Generally speaking Zsolt and I are an easygoing and happy couple. Things happen, we adapt, we have a talk, we share a laugh, we watch a movie and move on. Plates have never been thrown, and voices are hardly ever raised. Generally speaking, we don’t fight.

But then put us in a small apartment, add a splash of chemotherapy, a dose of cancer-scare, a shake of lower income, and a large scoop of thesis pressure . . . mix it all together, let it bubble over a few months, and then see what happens.

What happens?

Irritation, micro fighting, nit-picking, wit’s ends, and some poorly chosen words.

There is a new sort of pressure on our relationship that we need to push through. Life isn’t always easy; we’ve always been on student incomes, we’ve always had PhD pressure, we’ve always come from different cultures. And yet, we’ve always been happy. With Zsolt my choices are clear, my opinion is set. I’ve never doubted us as a couple, not even for a second.

Not even now.

Today, I just want to write about pressure. Pressure and fighting. It was such a relief yesterday when he and I finally spoke about this and realized we were both feeling that same tension. It was a relief to admit that we were becoming frustrated. Of course that doesn’t solve all problems, but it make me feel more united with him.

Maybe other people can relate to this? It must be normal, right? The pressure and stress and frustration has got be normal, yeah? Right?

Well at least I’m not alone.

Zsolt agreed things have been hard; it was a good moment for us both, and today was easier, lighter. We both recognized and stopped a fight before it happened. It certainly could have gone bad today, for no good reason but an open door. (I won’t go into details, but it involved ‘heating the outdoors’ as my dad would say).

Zsolt and I have been in situations of pressure before, but not often at the same time. So this is new in our relationship. We can’t always be each other’s rock.

And yet, at the same time – just knowing that he and I are in the similar boats makes a big difference. I don’t feel as alone, and hopefully neither does he. We’ll probably still fight – because hey, this is still stressful. But if at the end of the day I can slide into his arms, and he can kiss me on the head, and we can talk about our feelings . . . then I’ll guess things will be okay.

Fighting and pressure are worth mentioning, if also a little personal. But if you’re reading this blog to know what can expected during some cancer killing – I would expect some tension, and probably towards the people you love the very most. But it doesn’t have to conquer us, does it? Nope.

Because they are the people we love the very, very most.

I went half way around the world for Zsolt, and I’d go a lot further still. We might fight a little, but we love a lot more. No cancer is going to stop that.

Pyramid Lake

There is a lake in Jasper at the base of a mountain . . . well, not quite the base. If you are in a car, it’s an easy uphill drive along a winding road to reach beautiful water that reflects Pyramid Mountain above. And at that water you can rent canoes, take them out and paddle – quietly, peacefully, happily – to your heart’s delight.

Nearly ten years ago, while living in Jasper, I had that pleasure. But I didn’t have a car. Instead, a group of friends and I set out on our bikes to peddle to the base of this mountain, where the lake waited with the canoes on shore.

Jasper is high, and biking up a mountain makes it even higher. To reach that water meant physical turmoil. Our group of friends became separated – those who were stronger pushed ahead, those out of practise fell behind.

I fell behind: panting, swearing, aching. Cars whizzed past, and I considered sticking out a thumb, but didn’t because it was too embarrassing. Instead I simlpy pressed onward despite thoughts of giving up, because I knew – I just knew – that canoeing in that beautiful water, out in the open air, laughing and cruising, and being part of that incredible grandness was going to be worth it.

So bit by bit, with frequent breakdowns of determination and the occasional ten minute rest-stops . . . I finally made it to the base of that mountain. And my word, it was good.

It was so very, very good.

I wish that at the end of this chemotherapy there was something like that waiting.  My pink mountain with the canoes all tied up. Actually, there is – another chance, a plane ticket home, a break from this crap. But right  now I’m struggling uphill, and it’s getting pretty damn difficult.

Bright side: I received the expensive drug, and this weekend has been much better. Apart from Friday the nausea was little to gone, which makes the whole thing easier. Instead of suffering from illness, I slept away the weekend. This was a positive experience . . . and yet I can’t help feeling down. Thinking about all the treatments to come – all the needles and drugs – it’s like biking up that mountain and turning the corner, only to see more of that uphill climb.

I know this will be over in a matter of months. This part of the cancer ride will come and go, and I pray it’ll never be needed again. Somewhere ahead is that symbolic lake, though I do wish there was an easier way.

The weekend went well. That is what matters. But I feel this is a greater challenge beyond ticking off the treatments, and unfortunately there isn’t much choice . . . I just need to keep on biking.

Strike of the mouth sores

A leisurely trip through the country side. Nothing except the birds, bees, and the sound of two voices travelling inside a small 2003 Peugeot. Let’s listen in as the couple approaches a roundabout:

“Which exit do I take?”


“This one?”

“No – one.”

“This one?”

“No – two.  Here, this next one.”

“This one?”

“Yes – three.”





And so on, roundabout after roundabout. Our GPS confused us so badly today we got lost in our own city centre, got lost on the highway detour, and got lost in the countryside. We got lost so many times, even the road map turned against us. And all the while Zsolt’s family followed us in the car behind. They must have thought we were nuts.

But it was a very pretty drive. The New Forest is a lovely place. Today was a typically English day with the sweeping light rain and greyness all around, which might be depressing if you are stuck at home with a foggy window, but it’s striking as you drive along Hardy-esque landscapes.

The tricky bit today was that I ate a giant scone mid afternoon, and it gave me mouth sores. I’m sure it was the scone – we were sitting round the cafe table, spreading the jams and cream, and about half way through my scone it became less and less comfortable to eat. Forward thirty minutes and my mouth was full of sores. Blah, why does something so sweet have to be so bad? Can’t sugar and cream and white flour be healthy for the body?

Anyhow, my mom is helping me cope with the sores. It’s gotten a bit tricky to talk, but I am hoping the right supplements, some sleep and an occasional dose of warm salt water will make the difference.

And speaking of sleep . . . I’m outta here.

Update: I wrote this blog last night but didn’t publish it then. Today the sores are getting better but still present. However, I can talk and eat which is a great improvement. Still need to keep rinsing, supplementing, and all that jazz. What a freaking pain! Mind you, despite the sores, it was so good to get out of the apartment. Thank goodness for that.