Cancer & the Power of a Blog
I had cancer in 2015. My thyroid was removed in January, then a piece of my salivary gland removed in July. It was scary to be told I had cancer, and even scarier to tell my son. It was a difficult time but when I look back at 2015 I have clarity about who I am as a mother, woman, daughter, sister, and writer. I feel blessed.
When I got the call my biopsy was malignant I cried. When I was told I got “good cancer”, I cried harder. I didn’t understand how anyone could be so insensitive as to tell me cancer was good. As I approach my 1 year cancer free anniversary, I can't say I got good cancer, but am lucky my cancer was found early and removed.
Long before cancer throws your body into crisis, it is a mind fuck. I struggled with the diagnosis and it changed my life in more ways than surgeries or treatments. The first thing I thought about was my son, who was 18 at the time. He would have to check yes in the cancer history box on medical forms for the rest of his life.
It was a random thought I suppose, but it haunted me. I sobbed everyday and told my son I was sorry I got cancer, which he thought was silly. It makes me sad for him to have seen me cry so much during that time, but it also makes me proud I have raised such a kind and compassionate person. Not just to me, but everyone.
My son is amazing and while I wish we never had to deal with my getting cancer, we grew closer. I am blessed to call him my son and lucky beyond measure he is my best friend. There comes a time when you see your kids as equals and we have reached that moment. It makes me happy to have this relationship with him.
Friendship is an interesting thing. I have friends I’ve known since I was a little girl. Others I met through school, work, or relationships. Ilness tested my friendships. Maybe it was me who did the testing, but having the label of cancer is hard for some people to handle. For me, it was a reason to assess friendships and do a people purge.
I wrote on social media I had cancer, was having surgery, having a second surgery, and then I blogged about it. If my “friends” didn’t acknowledge my situation within two weeks I was done with the friendship. Everyone knew I was sick and if they couldn’t acknowledge it in even the subtlest of ways, I was done.
It may seem harsh, but getting cancer is harsh. Whether it was good or bad cancer, it killed my ability to deal with bullshit. I simply have no tolerance for it. None. I have not spoken to a lot of people in the past year and in the end I don’t miss them. My life is less complicated without these invisible people.
Knowing me and my son is a beautiful thing and if you can’t send an email or make a call to tell me you hope we are doing ok, then the only thing I have to say is fuck off. No shame. For every friendship I lost in real life, I made 1000 virtual friends online. The people who read my blogs lifted me up and carried me to health.
There are too many people to mention, but they know who they are. Warriors who have welcomed me into their homes and shared their stories. People who have battled cancer and come out stronger. I would like to point out one woman today because she is amazing. My reader and friend Lynda has been a beacon of hope.
On her birthday last year, while I was dealing with good cancer, Lynda was being kicked in the ass by chemotherapy. She lost her hair and was feeling beat down. She took inspiration from me and in a show of real bravery, posted a picture of her fabulous baldness with a shout out to me. It was powerful and I still cry when I think about it.
I received this from Lynda this week:
Home! Vacation was wonderful. Last year at this time I was in the midst of my chemo. I was bald but fighting. I would close my eyes and see the beach try to remember the sound of the waves crashing. It’s my happy place and what I fought to one day see again. This week I did see him in all his beauty. I jumped, ran, rode waves, got knocked over, and thought I got bit. It was perfection. I realized to me it is when I truly feel closest to God. It is powerful. It is calm but can create the worst of catastrophes. It is vast and as far as you can see. It brings me to life and rejuvenates me. But sadly when I was finding my balance and peace a young man lost his life in a riptide. I don’t know what to think or feel about this. I only know when I was at my lowest sick and exhausted it would bring me peace and comfort. I pray for this young man and his family. I’m still Blessed to experience this past week. I was happy and brave like my sister in cancer who taught me to be me when I didn’t know how. That was when I first posted my pic on my birthday last year without hair. My friend now, Ilana Angel, continues to let herself be vulnerable, face her fears, and continues to teach me to do the same. We will keep growing and sometimes get knocked down but will continue to get back up. #fuckcancer
I look back at my year and marvel at many things, but it is the journey of Lynda that changed my perspective. She made me feel safe. Safe in who I am and the choices I’ve made. This woman, who I only know online, credits me for her wanting to be brave, when it is actually her who inspired me to be brave, while giving me permission to be scared.
Lynda is my hero. No matter what kind of cancer you have, the mind fuck is the same and that is what binds us together. We take comfort in knowing that no matter how low we feel or how scared we are, there is someone who knows exactly how we feel. That is a blessing and blessings in cancer are hard to find.
To my dear friend Lynda, you are a wonderful human being. Thank you for letting me share you today. To anyone who feels alone, scared, or misunderstood on their journey with cancer, we got you. Lynda and me will hold you up until you are able to stand on your own. Be kind to yourself, embrace people who care, and keep the faith.