Things We Lost in the Fire.

There are times I forget I even have cancer. Then I walk past a window or mirror and get a flash of myself and then have that “oh yeah” moment.

At this stage in Hurricane Cancer I fight so hard for any sense of normalcy I can find. It’s important to me. I am still the same person, just more tired and nauseous sometimes. I hate being treated like I am frail. Sometimes I get up in the middle of the day and go shave my legs. I go out of town as much as I can. Sometimes I order a drink when I’m with friends. There was a Tuesday last month where I had to go get a flu shot. After spending time in a doctor’s office where I was the youngest (and baldest) person by at least thirty years, I left feeling tired. Tired of the sympathetic looks and feeling pathetic. I went to visit my brother at his job where we ate cheesecake, drank cappuccinos and shared in much needed honest conversation. From there I was supposed to go to class but that particular day I did not have the will power or the emotional capacity to go. Instead I went to Target and bought the most obnoxious shade of pink nail polish I could find then sat in my car and did my nails. It was the happiest I had been in a while. It was a good day.

I have been thinking about relationships more than ever recently. How we relate to and how we treat people. Strangers and friends. When I found out I was sick people came slinking out of the shadows of high school and decades ago wanting to offer their condolences or asking for some time with me. Why is it that we don’t invest in other people’s lives always though? Isn’t that what we should be doing? Not just when things go sour but always. Share in their pain AND their joy. Today I went through the drive-thru at Starbucks and messed up my order a little bit. The employee was snarky back to me over the intercom but I brushed it off. But man, when I got to the window and she SAW me did her attitude change. She then spoke to me in the higher pitched, customer service voice that we all have. Asked me if I needed anything else. Apologized for the wait. The whole nine yards. Why? Because I’m sick? Seems like a dumb reason to be nice to someone.

This has been such a strange season in my life. I can’t even begin to tell how many times someone (stranger or not) has told me about a relative or friend who has died from cancer. It always puts me in the most terribly awkward position. What am I even supposed to say to that? I’m not dying. Don’t plan on it at least. Everyone has advice and is an expert on my situation and how to make it better. I have all this free time but rarely have the energy and never have the money (unemployed) to do much with it. It’s hard to feel like yourself when you don’t feel like yourself (or look like yourself for that matter). This isn’t the life I want, this isn’t who I want to be. I have to remind myself constantly that this is temporary. In December I am going to walk across a stage in front of thousands of people while bald. I never in my wildest dreams imagined I’d be doing that. I don’t know how to make plans for my future because things are uncertain for me. What is for certain is: One day (hopefully soon) I am going to start a career and start making money again and then I am going to go on a wonderful and much needed vacation. That is my motivator.

Some quick updates: Though each treatment gets worse and worse, I’m trekking along. I got a 92 on my Real Estate Investments exam and a 95 on my Real Estate Market Analysis (ARGUS) exam recently. I have all A’s and B’s currently. At this point in the semester, that has never happened (thanks cancer). Graduation is in 32 days. There is a light at the end of this college tunnel. This Friday will be my eighth (and last scheduled) treatment. Then on November 28th I will have a PET scan. As long as my tumors have shrunk down to manageable sizes and there is no more activity (the cancer isn’t still producing more cancer) then I can move on to radiation. I’m hoping with my whole being that is the case. I’ve gotten to the point in treatment where just thinking about it makes me nauseous enough to vomit.


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