My life lately has been that bottle, with each bubble of carbonation representing something in my life that I let fester, but would better serve me out than in. On September 10th, 2013, at age 30, I was diagnosed with Stage IV gastric cancer.
I am no longer sick. I am well. That isn't the case for some of my closest friends and family. Because I'm 'well,' and perhaps because I'm still desperate to make sense of my own senseless diagnosis, I assign myself responsibility to them.
If you're not a doctor, please don't offer me medical advice. If you don't have cancer, don't tell me how I should be living my life. And actually, as a general rule, if you're not ME, don't tell me how I should be living MY life.
There are so many rooms and pieces of furniture, but I'm drawn to the couch as if by muscle memory.
It's the best advice a friend sent me today. To be honest, I feel like it's our only option -- be brave. What else can you do when a doctor tells you you're dying?
It sucks to have cancer at 19. Sometimes, it's hard to look forward when you think your entire life is moving backwards. But as my body gets stronger each day, my ability to see a brighter future grows with it.
"You're so strong," people tell me. "I hope to be as brave as you," they say. I don't know if either of those things is true. I think most cancer patients -- most people facing any crisis, really -- would say the same thing, that is: you do what you have to in order to get through it.
I don't know what the future looks like for me at all, on Friday or in five years. But somehow, I have to find a way to get through it and get done what needs to be done. So even though it's probably silly, I pin that Wonder Woman picture into the blank space on my planner as a source of inspiration for myself.
We've all heard the term "famous last words." But what about the having the final words? It's ironic how often I choose my words so carefully when I write and so carelessly when I address the people in my life who matter. Do you do this?
A place where chemo drips freely. Hair is a rare sight to be seen. Tubes, treatment, and trials are common occurrences. Hospital bands are shackles bound to the arms of warriors. And cancer is everywhere. Welcome to Cancerland.