As I sit and write this, my best friend Dani is sprawled out on her lofted bed, sucking on a sour apple Blow Pop and perusing Facebook. Millionaire Matchmaker plays softly on the little TV across the room and provides the white noise I need in order to get any of my work done. "Write something about me!" she just joked, gnawing off a piece of the lollipop (or so I gather by the loud crunching sound I hear). Little does she know I actually am writing about her, and not because she asked me to.
When I started my chemotherapy treatment, I tried to picture what it would be like to go back to school at the end of everything. It was a way to escape the unpleasantness of being pumped with toxic fluids for five straight days every three weeks to imagine sleeping in my cozy dorm room bed again, playing Super Smash Brothers on a Sunday night with my friends, eating at the dining hall, and even just walking to class on a sunny, brisk winter morning. The best part? In my imagination, nothing had changed. I was the same old me (sans my long blonde hair) doing all of these things, as if I'd never had to medically withdraw from school. And my friends hadn't changed either. I wasn't a cancer patient to them. I was the same Lindsay, and that didn't merit any differential treatment.
I'm so, so lucky to be able to say that my daydreams from the last nine weeks have become my reality. I arrived back at school Saturday and was greeted with hugs and warmth from everyone in my hall. And then, by Sunday, things were as close to normal as I could have expected. I was just one of the group again, dancing to Ke$ha with my girlfriends before a fun night out -- for them, at least. My body still maintains that I sleep by 10 or 11, but my friends don't slow down to please me. In fact, they joke that I'm a party pooper, and insist that I come out anyways. And when I assure them that it's after my bedtime, they make me promise that I'll go next time. It's the same thing a healthy, energetic version of me would say to them if the roles were reversed.
If I were to go walk down the hall right now, nobody would look twice at my bald head. Nobody would get up and offer me a seat on a bed or chair -- if they're all taken, I better be happy sitting on the floor. Nobody would make sure I'm keeping up with the group while we're all walking to dinner. It might sound damn rude to most people, but it brings a smile to my face when I think about it. The fact that nobody thinks any differently of me, despite how I've spent the last fourteen weeks, is all I could have asked for. The scene with Dani right now in her room is as close to normalcy as it gets. And all a cancer patient wants at the end of things is normalcy.
So to my friends, I say thank you. Thank you for treating me like one of the gang again. Thank you for not coddling me as I readjust to living on my own in a dorm again. And best of all, thank you for not being fazed by how I've changed. Ultimately, I've stayed the same, and so have all of you. That's the best welcome back present anyone could have asked for.
Lindsay Goldstein is the 20-year old behind the blog, Lindsay Sarah Interrupted, documenting her experience with ovarian cancer and chemotherapy.