Things that Nobody told me about Cancer

Today is September 11, and this is one of those days that I try to avoid social media because it was one of those days where everyone’s grief, anger, and feelings are too loud. As the US remembers the tragic day that happened 18 years ago. I am reflecting on 8 years ago. The day that changed my life forever and then propelled me into the fight of my life.

We knew something was wrong. The initial tests started at the end of August, I had chose not to tell people outside my family about what was wrong because we didn’t want to scare everyone. I had experienced that before when I had the first appointment when I was told that there was something wrong. All the nurses in my doctor’s office shared an expression that I had never seen before but knew. It was the expression of sadness, and maybe not seeing them again. 

Jumping forward to September, by this time, I had blood tests, ct scans. This was a week before our first wedding anniversary, we had plans to go to a Giants game on our Anniversary, and that’s it. We didn’t know how far to plan out. We walked into the Dr. Appointment with my mom. Today was the day we would find out what was in my chest. I was playing a losing game with all the wrong cards. 

Stage 2 Hodgkins Lymphoma. My tumor was located in the mediastinum( something I didn’t know existed) At the time I didn’t know what this was except for a book that I read and an old stand up to cancer commercial which had a whole bunch of stars sharing impossible odds and at the end of the commercial they said one in 3 young adults will get Cancer. I remember thinking that meant 3 other people. 

Thankfully I am Cancer free. However, I wish more people talked about the emotional side of Cancer, I heard all about physical side effects and mental, but the emotional side is the hardest part. Nobody told me that I would feel survivors guilt because I didn’t lose my hair, or that riding in an airplane would create claustrophobia akin to being a CT scan.

Nobody told me that I would have horrible anxiety after for about 2 years afterward and that a haircut would bring flashbacks. 

Nobody told me how my heart would break for every new person I met who was diagnosed since my cancer journey. Nobody told me that I would have sisters and brothers because of this horrible disease. And my heart would break but also feel relieved when one of my brothers or sisters passed on because I know how hard cancer treatments are. Nobody told me that when a social media friend posts things about being a previvor would make me upset. Nobody told me that when a friend shared their goal to maintain a healthy lifestyle was so they would be around for a long time, it would break my heart.

Nobody told me how sometimes I would mourn life before Cancer, not the lessons I’ve learned or the strength but being able to do simple things like watch movies without knowing the scars that Cancer leaves and go to the doctor without feeling the pit of dread.

I am different now. I like Cheesecake now. I have a cancer card, but I don’t play it very often. I am not defined as a Cancer patient. I am a writer, I am a poet, I am a fanfiction writer, I love Disney. I watch Netflix and youtube. I live my life with movie quotes and bible verses. I am a shipper and a music junky. I love to travel and still enjoy the beach. I make friends carefully now. I pray more. I cry more. The world is still deafening at times but also very quiet. I found that the Fandom community is amiable but can also be very mean. September is hard every year, October brings a new wind and promise of beauty, and life and surviving. I’ve learned it’s okay to be melancholy. 

I worry more about everything health-related. I also turn to God more. I reach out when I need help, especially when I need prayers. 

Life post Cancer has been hard, angering, disappointing and sometimes to loud, but there have also been moments of beauty, happy tears, and finally, moments when I hear God’s voice through the storm. It’s breathing and courage, and words, and hummingbirds, ice cream for supper and violet and lime green. Most importantly, Cancer was a season, a chapter in my story, that yes, at the time I want to tear it out, but it has impacted who I am. I am a cancer survivor. And it is September which makes me reflective and questioning my purpose, but I can’t take that chapter out of my story because that would be like reading a book but stopping in the middle. 

  Psalm 121 ] [ A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. ] I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!

Psalm 121:1-2

TTFN and God Bless and Keep you.

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