jersey girl. jets/mets fan. coffee addict. road trip queen. cookie monster. fluent in sarcasm. unsuccessful hippie in a past life. still unabashedly in love with emo/pop punk music. troublemaker.
i thought my life was ridiculous before, but getting diagnosed with cancer at 27 will throw you for a loop. i just hope you'll all come along for this strange ride.
I was avoiding the blogosphere for a while, at least while I was back East, but I wrote a few posts during my flight back to Los Angeles. I haven’t edited them yet, but I’ll get at least one or two up this week.
In the meantime, I caught up on my friend Katie’s blog, a fellow (as she put it) “diagnosed-with-cancer-at-the-ripe-old-age-of-27-club” member. It’s weird knowing that there were two of us diagnosed at 27, especially since we’re not strangers. Katie married my buddy Asa. I was at their wedding. I don’t know how the two of us got so lucky as to be diagnosed with cancer within months of each other, but it happened, which was really silly on Cancer’s part, because neither one of us would ever go down without a fight.
Isn’t that just a pain in the ass for you, Cancer?
Last month, Katie had her own thoughts on what it meant to be a cancer patient. (You can read her blog post here.) This was the part that hit closest to home for me:
“I’ve mentioned before that I don’t like the term “cancer patient” because it seems too passive… I’m not patient about anything. But then there are so many times when people comment on how strong I am that I want to respond with the fact that I don’t have a choice about the whole situation. I can’t choose to not have cancer anymore.”
She worded the strength situation better than I did, but I’ve felt that way many times. I didn’t choose to have cancer, but I also didn’t choose to be a fighter or to be stronger than the next person. I just reacted, and if my reaction was one of strength, so be it. Better than one of weakness, I suppose.
A hairdresser I visited said that positive thinking is what keeps people alive. If I was negative, I wouldn’t have had the strength to fight. While I agree with her, I never saw positivity or fighting as a choice. But I guess it doesn’t matter if I chose it or not, so long as I stayed positive no matter what the reasons behind that mindset were, which I did.
Now that I’m in remission, I’m just hoping to stay there. I also wish the rest of my health issues would go away, but one battle at a time. Because, really, what fun would life be if it were easy? Apparently none, if you’re me, and your body hates you.
And that’s why, body, I’m taking you to Yosemite, where you will climb up a mountain, and you will like it, damnit!
I’m in remission.
There, I said it.
For someone who is normally too self-aware for her own good, I can honestly say that I’m not sure why it took me so long to write this blog post, seeing as I’ve known I was in remission for a full month. But, I’m really not sure why. Maybe laziness, maybe taking a break from thinking about cancer; who knows.
That being said, I found out like this: On March 20, I had a PET scan. After that, I spent five days freaking out on the inside, despite the fact that my oncologist has been nothing but positive. Then on March 25, I had a follow-up appointment to get my result: Remission. This was of the official variety, which was vastly different than my self-proclaimed decision on the matter months ago.
I called my family and best friends on the East Coast to share the news, because that seemed like the right thing to do, and I’m pretty sure that they were more excited than i was. Then I went back to work. I didn’t want to do anything major, because that felt wrong. I had a disease, it went away, end of story. I didn’t want to invest much more than that into it because in a weird way, I feel like that would give Cancer the power. I can’t fully explain that logic, so please just accept it.
I didn’t do nothing though. I celebrated the big news in the classiest way I know how: I dragged few of my LA friends to Chili’s. I also found dart boards. And these were clearly good friends, because they drove all the way to Encino for me. In rush hour.
That’s love, people.
That’s also a brilliant way to celebrate beating an illness: By eating fried chips and drinking liquor. (See, Cancer, this is why you’re not smart to attack twentysomethings. We’re already stupid.)
Then I waited five days to announce it on Facebook, because I wanted
to hoard the news. I needed to process it, have it be mine and mine alone (arguably) for a little while. A normal person probably wouldn’t have even put it on Facebook, but hell, I’ve never been accused of being normal, plus I’ve already made my situation quite public with this blog, and a status update is far faster than a string of phone calls and texts. Besides, if people can whine on the daily that they still have a cold or their big toe hurts, I’m pretty sure I can make a status about no longer having cancer and not feel guilty about the post.
So, what was there to process? Glad you asked. A number of things: I have to go back for scans every six months for the next year until they
progressively get spaced out for, oh, the rest of my life after that. I have to be very conscious of any health issues, because if a tumor is to reappear, it will most likely be within the next two years. And then there’s the fact that, oh yeah, I freakin’ had cancer. At 27. It sucked and I hated it and I still am in denial that it was real and I want all forms of cancer to die harsh, harsh deaths.
Too much? Too eloquent?
This is the real reason I didn’t jump up and down when I found out (though I did have a very big grin on my face that didn’t disappear for about 24 hours): My life is now defined by before I had cancer and after I was diagnosed. I will worry for the rest of my life that it may come back
or that something else awful may occur because I clearly have a
weakened, mean immune system. I will not live in fear, but I also
can’t pretend that the reality of a recurrence doesn’t exist. That’s a scary way to live, but it’s my new reality. For now, I have to
enjoy being told that I was healthy and figure out what I truly want
to do and be and see.
That’s almost as difficult as anything else I’ve had to manage in the
But, hey, at least I kicked Cancer’s ass.