Reflections by Jerry Webber

Saturday, July 10, 2010

To Look Good or To Feel Good?

The old Saturday Night Live sketch had Billy Crystal playing "Fernando," a celebrity interviewer in "Fernando's Hideaway." Fernando wore a pretentious ascot as he interviewed various luminaries and repeated in a thick Latin accent, "You look mah-velous!"

This is going to sound strange at first, but I thought of Fernando in recent days as I've started another cycle of chemotherapy. Stay with me for a minute.

One of Fernando's tag lines, after proclaiming to his guests, "You look mah-velous," was to tell them, "You know, it is better to look good than to feel good."

That line popped into my head several times over the last couple of weeks. Over those days I saw many people who know that I'm currently in treatment for lymphoma. So as I moved toward the treatments this week, several times people said to me things like, "You really look good!" Or, "You seem to be feeling good!" I felt like a guest on Fernando's Hideaway.

The truth was that I probably did look pretty good, or at least better than the last time they saw me!

And further, I probably did feel pretty good, or at least better than a few days before!

So I received the kind words of my friends, grateful for the encouragement they offered.

But I also wondered if those were the only two options. While how I look and how I feel may be some indicator of what is going on within me -- in my blood and in my bone marrow and with all the counts that determine my body's physical health -- my "looks" and my body's "feel" are not the final measure of my physical health.

The reality that is most crucial to me is not how I look or even how I feel -- though obviously I'd rather feel good than not. I'm most concerned about the actual state of my body. I wouldn't mind looking terrible if the cancer within me were eradicated. I've even gotten used to feeling rotten periodically -- thanks to the chemotherapy, steroids, and other meds that I take for my "health" -- for the benefit of knocking down the cancer.

So in my experience, Fernando didn't have it exactly right. Looking good and feeling good are not the only options.

Sorry Fernando. There is another reality beneath what I look like and feel like. That's the one I'm interested in tending these days.

1 comment:

Pete the Brit said...

Wow Jerry, thanks for this reminder.