Today I Am…. Caregiving for Me
by Mallory Casperson, Living with Cancer
Today I am afraid. I am frightened for all that may and all that may not. I mourn the losses that I have endured and hesitate before the doors of tomorrow for all that may still be lost. Today I am frustrated; hearing people talk of surviving their cancer as if this is a decision they can make, to survive or not to survive. They must not have watched that decision being taken away and someone ripped from their lives. Today I am angry. Angry that I so heavily fear the unknown and so deeply face my mortality. I am angry that I am afraid. Watching around every corner and every bend for the danger that I believe most certainly awaits. Today I am anxious. Everything new and everything old seems out of my grasp and out of my control. Today I am heartbroken. My mother is no longer here with me and I am frightened that I will fail without her.
Some days are like this. They start like any other and then, somewhere along the way, I become scared and stuck; trapped in my own skin and my own mind. Today I am afraid that I feel fear with such intensity. Today I am sad that I feel loss with such ferocity. Today I am angry that I experience anger and resentment at the normal lives that walk past me each and every day.
My cancer survivorship has brought with it a host of new and intense feelings. While some I speak about openly, others are shoved behind curtains and into closets. Before, when life was shiny and untarnished by illness, I had far fewer curtains and closets behind which I hid.
I judge this new person, with her battle cries and her layers of armor and tears. I wish her to go back to the way things were before, when life was not so frightening and frustrating and riddled with anxiety.
There isn’t always a silver lining and there isn’t always a happy ending, but through it all, there is me. Today there is the me who is afraid. Today there is the me who is fearful or anxious or angry or heartbroken. While I feel all sorts of things in response to the emotions I experience, the consistent fact of the matter lies with me. If I am to face my fear or my anger or my heartache, I must first face the me behind it all. I must love the me that is afraid. I must love the me that is sad and in mourning. If I do not love her, to whom will she turn for support and comfort?
Today I must love me, whatever else the day may bring.
Mallory is the Founder and CEO of Lacuna Loft, a 501(c)3 registered nonprofit organization featuring lifestyle and psychosocial support for young adult cancer and long term illness patients, survivors, and caregivers, found at LacunaLoft.org. She served as one of the primary caregivers for her mother undergoing treatments for a brain tumor just months before receiving her own diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She is an ex-Rocket Scientist who is passionate about helping people find the resources they need in order to thrive. Launched in March 2014, Lacuna Loft is her labor of love to the young adult cancer community. She is thrilled to grow and expand Lacuna Loft for young adult cancer survivors everywhere!