Coping Mechanisms Part IV: My Breakup with Cancer
I am unchained from the word; the feelings; the two years of my life when I had cancer.
I no longer have cancer. I am not sick. I am not in remission. I am my usual, jolly, witty, costume-wearing-tennis-playing self, and it feels delicious.
I refuse to fall prey to the damning language that forever weighs you down. You may say ‘remission’, but to me, that feels like ‘submission’; chaining me to the past.
Over the past two years, following my doctors’ advice, I kept life as normal as possible. I listened to my body; ate when I was hungry, drank when I was thirsty and slept when I was tired. It was not an easy transition adjusting to that new version of normal.
The experience of cancer has become incredibly important. I am stronger and braver than I ever knew was possible, and in allowing myself to grow, despite the cancer, I found that I have become increasingly more able to help others and share my zest for life with them.
But I didn’t do any of it alone. I had a LOT of help along the way. All throughout, I was fighting my own excuses, “I have cancer, so I’m going to stay in my pajamas and sleep all day. I really should go for a walk, but I’m on chemo…” Luckily I had people in my life who knew that I was capable of more and needed help. My tennis teammates gently counted on me to play in our weekly matches. My dad and brother worked hard to get me out of the house, whether it was for exercise or food, and my mom would and still does rally me up and accompany me for a walk because she knows that I really enjoy it but sometimes struggle to get myself to do it.
Thanks to the help of many, I am now adjusting to another new normal, which will never be the same as my pre-cancer normal, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.
“So goodbye Cancer, it was nice meeting you, but this relationship is not something that I wish to pursue. It’s definitely you, not me, and no, you don’t deserve an explanation.”