Broken

When I had cancer, no one told me to just think positively and I would get over it. No one told me to use diet and exercise, to get more sleep, to focus on the good things in my life, to stop dwelling on the sad things, to change who I choose to spend time with, to meditate, and I would be healed. I was sick. I got treatment. People accepted it as what was going on in my life. 

I don't have a thyroid. I take a tiny pill every day. If I stop taking that tiny pill, I will die. No one tells me that I am weak because I need to take that tiny pill. No one rolls their eyes or judges my inability to live without taking that tiny pill. No one makes me feel unworthy for relying on that tiny pill to stay alive. My body was broken. That tiny pill fixes the brokenness and allows me to live a healthy life. 

If you are depressed or anxious, if your brain is broken, you deserve that same respect. You deserve to feel like seeking treatment, asking for help, taking that tiny pill (or talking to a therapist, or meditating, or whatever it is that makes you feel better) is a viable, valuable option. You are worthy. You are important. You deserve to feel better. 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
Pacific Post Partum Support Society: 1-855-255-7999

 

Five

Five years ago I sat in my surgeon's office and heard him tell me I had cancer and then...nothing. I don't remember anything after that. My world shrank to the size of those two syllables and all of a sudden I couldn't see past that afternoon.  

I was a few months into a fresh decade. My thirties were supposed to be filled with big dreams and opportunities and adventure. My diagnosis turned it all upside down. 

Life has a funny way of keeping on keeping on. Even when I felt like I was taking one step forward and two steps back, days turned into weeks and then months and years. I've not wished away the last five years but I have had this date tattooed on my heart.  

Five years is the magic number. Five years means my risk of recurrence has dropped dramatically. Five years means big dreams and opportunities and adventure don't need to be tempered by test results or specialist appointments. Five years means I can breathe again.  

Five years isn't a guarantee of anything (the first person to tell me we could all be hit by a bus tomorrow gets a punch) but it is a comfort. I can wrap those five years up in a box and tuck them away. Life will keep on keeping on but now I feel like I can start making plans instead of being swept along in the terrible current that is cancer.

I have been cut open and sewn back together. My body is scarred and soft in some places and gnarled and rough in others. But I'm standing strong, five years later, bolstered by the love and support thrown at me from every corner of my life. Cancer has taken a lot from me but it's also filled me with gratitude and a deep appreciation for the different ways people show up. Today is a celebration of my five years, yes, but it's also a celebration of the amazing people in my life who kept my life keeping on keeping on. Y'all, we did it. Five years. 

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That Time I Didn't Have Cancer

Speaking from experience, going to a doctor's appointment convinced you have cancer and being told you do not is infinitely better than going to a doctor's appointment confident you do not have cancer and being told you do. I've done it both ways. Today, hearing the specialist tell me my pathology report came back clear felt like a million pounds being lifted off my shoulders. I have been paralyzed for months anticipating the surgery, having the surgery date changed multiple times, fretting, planning my kid's birthday parties just in case the surgery went wrong, actually having the damn surgery, and recovering. Today is my New Year's Day. A January 1st redo on May 1st. I'm celebrating with bubbly, obviously. Because that's what New Year's Day calls for. Cheers!

Waiting

My surgeon told me to expect the pathology report within one to two weeks after my surgery. Tomorrow marks four weeks since my surgery and I still don't have my results. 

Patience is not one of my strengths. When I want to know something, I want to know now. I don't want to wait, I find no comfort in "no news is good news," and trusting the system is something that's been slowly squeezed from me almost five years into this cancer thing. 

May will mark five years since my diagnosis. Five years is a huge milestone in the cancer world. For a lot of types of cancer, fives years means the risk of recurrence drops drastically and life expectancy raises significantly. Five years is a bfd. 

The logical part of me knows that having a recurrence now would be terrible, but so would having a recurrence at six years, or ten years, or twenty. A recurrence means cancer and cancer is terrible (even if it's a good cancer DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED). 

But the emotional part of me wants to get to five years. It feels like we've been working for it since the day I was diagnosed. I say "we" and not "I" because it's been a group effort. My family, my friends, people who used to be acquaintances, strangers on the internet, so many people have played a role in my recovery. I couldn't even attempt to list the numerous ways people have supported me and loved me as I've flailed my way through this. Not reaching my five year mark feels like I'm failing them as much as my body fails me. (I know, I know. But this is not the logical part of me, okay? It is the stay-up-all-night-the-night-before-surgery-and-watch-my-babies-sleep part of me.) 

And so I wait. Practicing patience, or at the very least, honing my fortitude until I finally get the results from my surgery. Laser eyes and positive vibes welcomed and appreciated.