And it finally happened. I have cancer. Great.
This isn't the coursing through your veins, destroying your organs kind of cancer. Well, I guess I don't completely know that yet. But every kind of cancer is the omg what the hell just happened kind of cancer. It's "malignant melanoma". God why can't they name this shit something at least appealing to the ear. Why does it have to sound so ugly and undesirable! My uncle survived it four times. I'm pretty sure I'm a little bit stronger than him. My grandmother survived it once. I know I'm stronger than her. So I have few worries, at least, for now.
I am 35 years old. Alone. Losing my job in six weeks. And now I have to go in for invasive surgery to try and save my life. I don't even know if I should be writing this because I am not sure I have had enough time to process that statement. How do you continue on with day to day activities knowing that this is growing inside of you, knowing how ever many people you have known have died from various cancers, knowing you have no control, and not let it consume your mind?
I have no idea how.
So what in the world can come out of this experience to make it valuable for me, for you?
The first thing that I know...People often say that life is short. I don't believe that. Life is long. We just block out all of our wasted moments. Think of all the times you have said, "this day is dragging on forever," or "I'm so bored," or "I wish there was something to do." Or even think of what it is that you do with your time. Sitting idly by the tv, soaking in the tub (though I don't consider this wasteful, personally), twiddling our thumbs in the hope that something will happen TO us. Well, I am here to tell ya, plenty has happened TO me, and frankly, I'm over it.
I want to be responsible for things happening, not the object to which things happen. I want to live, not exist. I want to create, and no just maintain this life. I have always felt that way. I just don't know how. This blog has helped me do that though. I see how many people read it; I get the random comments. I will never know if I have impacted anyone, through this or just in life in general, but it is my hope. I try to be positive, honest and open, and educational. Yes, I've been called "preachy, blunt, bitchy, rude," etc., etc. Will that ever stop me? If you think that isn't rhetorical then you don't know me very well at all.
So I do say life is long, our own lives. When something happens to someone else, we are courteous in saying , life is too short. But we squander by so many missed opportunities every day, it's astounding. I know I'll get pity for this, but I don't want it. I have been lazy most of my life. I know people don't generally see me that way. But I know my mentality, trust me, I'm lazy. I've always worked, sure, since I was fourteen. All through school, all through life, I have worked. Typically I've worked two jobs at a time. This is the first time in my life I have only carried one job, and I'm working 50-70 hours a week. I always play on that my jobs are mentally stressful though, so it appears to have significance.
Truth is, I don't feel that way. I have watched more moments in my life go without any significance whatsoever that I am now ashamed. It won't change, but I recognize it. I am an idle mindset; I am a writer, not an actor. I am an office worker, not a laborer. I manage, I don't "do." My spirit, though, wears me out. I wish I knew what to do with it. It is so driven that I feel like I will implode one day. Maybe this is what's happening. I am not good at mentally processing information, stressors, emotions, ideas. I've always heard of dissociative disorders. I've always assumed that's why I am so physically present in this world. (Don't laugh at that).
I encourage you to not be like me. Honesty is necessary, but maybe I am kidding myself. My honesty, my blunt ways, are always pushing people away. Maybe people in general are not prepared for open books. Maybe they need to skim the cover and assume to know the plot, going on always in partial darkness, missing the key twists, flashlight in hand just in case. they want to go back and read a chapter in the middle of the night. I can't change my ways though. My honesty is so ingrained I catch myself off guard at some point, most days. I'm okay with that. But I miss people. I miss Audra and Jamie, Missy and Ryan, Sara and Amy, Paluga and Dustin, my grandma and the rest of the family. I miss all of the wonderful people who have come through my life and been removed from it for one reason or another. I miss being close to people, having secrets, knowing these moments aren't wasted because they're laughing with a friend. We all know that kind of bliss is incomparable.
Audra and I once spent three hours at Sprint transferring phones over and going through the whole process; we literally had the best time just laughing and joking. That, my friends, is the only thing in life you need. Someone who will make the dullest moments into the greatest memories. If you have someone like that in your life, keep them. Cherish them, because not everyone is capable of that.
What exactly is it that I am feeling? Not as much as I thought. I think my life is in such a state of internal chaos most of the time that death never feels very far away. God, I don't mean it at all that I think I am going to die! Most people just see it that way. The big C, it's named for a reason. We all know those who have succumbed to its forces. My grandpa died at 50 from lung cancer. Well, it went into his throat, mouth, brain. He was on a ventilator and the family eventually pulled the plug. My uncle died at 16 after battling leukemia for three years. My great aunt died from colon cancer a mere month after her diagnosis. It's too widespread not to have seen someone undergo treatment, go into remission, have it come back, and finally be taken away. But, on the flip side, it's also so widespread not to have seen someone undergo treatment and live out the rest of their life in the clear. I'll take my odds.
Physically, yes, I am in pain. It has been interesting. The amazing amount of discomfort I am enduing, makes it nearly impossible to NOT think about it all the time. I had a mole on my back; I won't indulge you in the details of the grossness of it all, but needless to say, I knew something was wrong. Finally, after about six months of questioning it, I went to the doctor. Two days ago. Now, lesson one, if the doctor calls you back within two days, prepare yourself before you accept the call. You should know it's not good news. The nurse was so over the top sympathetic (she was quite stoic in the office) that her change in tone had me more concerned than had she maintained her carelessness. "Now honey, don't google it too much, because it's always worse than it really is. We are so glad you came to see us (I'm wondering if it's not for the paycheck), we just can't tell you. If you have any problems you call us and we will get you in immediately." A doctor's office. Really? I've dealt with enough doctors to know. Lesson two.
The part where it gets tricky, insurance. They want to send me to the "best professional in the area," University Hospital, Cleveland. Yeah, I'll just bet he takes my insurance. In the meantime, I'll make sure to hold my breath while I wait.
While I wait........
While I wait, I'll chalk it up to yet another beautiful life lesson brought to you by the loving hand of Ms. Mother Earth. It's as if she wants me to know it all. That may have come from a place of dormant anger. All I can picture is the scarred up back and legs of my uncle who went through this three times (the last time I saw him) and how disfigured he became. Only if he would show you would you know, but still. To think of skin graphs and mapping and removing skin from one place to move it to another, it's just all a little much for me right now to not be slightly angry about it. Hell, I always figured it would be colon cancer for me.
While I wait, I will continue to plan my trip to Europe, my concerts in the summer and fall, I will look for a new job, keep budgeting six weeks at a time, somehow assume I will be here for thirty more years. I will keep buying things I don't need, contemplating the most complex notions, loving my fellow person, and honoring the divinity within myself. I will keep on investing in my future, planning out new blogs, reading ten books at a time, and trying to make new friends. I will always look for new ways to lead, love, laugh, and share. I am never going to stop passing on knowledge, giving my spirit away, hoping for the best, and remembering as much as possible.
While I wait, I will open myself up to you, even more so than before, making sure you are with me during this journey. I will continue to be honest, sharing as much as you want to know (probably more), and keeping my head high. I will fight the good fight, become every clique known to man, and be as dramatically hopeful as I know how (maybe I'll reach normalcy). While I wait, I will encourage you to take advantage of a few of those idle moments, and do something great. Love someone harder, laugh longer, leave work at work, and kiss your family goodnight. Learn something new, pass on a lesson, love with all of your might.
Life is long. But, that's a good thing. There's so much to be done.