It's like they say about soldiers coming back from war. People all around you are dying. Really dying, Eric. You go in for a week's chemotherapy and you're in a ward with people who are really, actually dying, there and then and doing their best to come to terms with it. When the week's up, you go home and you see your family and your friends and everything's normal and familiar. It's too much. You think - one world can't possibly hold both these lives and you feel like you're going to go crazy when you realise the world is that big and it can fill with the most terrible things whenever it wants to.
I love the imagery of struggle. I sometimes wish I were suffering in a good cause, or risking my life for the good of others, instead of just being a gravely endangered patient. Allow me to inform you, though, that when you sit in a room with a set of other finalists, and kindly people bring a huge transparent bag of poison and plug it into your arm, and you either read or don't read a book while the venom sack gradually empties itself into your system, the image of the ardent solider is the very last one that will occur to you. You feel swamped with passivity and impotence: dissolving in powerlessness like a sugar lump in water.