Hey, It’s Me Again

A retelling of getting cancer, going into remission and the emotions in between.

Brandon Slesser
Change Your Mind Change Your Life
12 min readMay 3, 2024

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Photo by Eric Christian King on Unsplash

Phew! What a trip this has been. I feel like it was just yesterday that I sent you that letter, title “Dear Me”. I know when we talked last, you were really going through it. Your emotions were everywhere. I know you were extremely worried about your new scans, but WOW! You had nothing to be worried about. You passed them with flying colors!

CANCER FREE!

That has a great ring to it! I mean, in just a few months look how far you have come!! I remember you telling me that you were going to beat this thing in 3 months or less and you beat it in 2!!! Can we just take a moment and celebrate this victory! I imagine that you did that.

You told me that you were on the road to recovery now. That’s wonderful to hear! I know it’s going to be a hard road still. Hang in there though! You’ve only got two treatments left! That’s it!! I wonder what you are going to do to celebrate it? I know you mentioned going to Key West. You absolutely should! Get some sun on those cheeks, and no, not the ones on your face.

I look at you now and I’m like “WOW!” Sure, you’ve lost your hair, eyebrows, eyelashes and basically every other hair on your body…but stop and look at yourself! You’re not really crying much in the mirror anymore. You’re not breaking down and falling apart like you used too. If anything, you are going through new sets of emotions.

They aren’t easy emotions, I know that, these emotions are new ones. Remember when I told you that you would rise from the ashes like a phoenix…well, coming out of those ashes aren’t as easy as you might have thought. Your wings are growing stronger and they are pushing off the dust and embers are starting to ignite. I mean, you are looking so strong. I still can’t believe it!!

Look at where you came from!

There you were lying in a hospital bed, not knowing what to think or how to feel. You didn’t even know what was going on with you! The moment you found out, you were shattered and destroyed. But you pulled yourself together. You met some great people while you were there though. They helped you through that moment. That’s all it was though. Just a brief moment. Don’t think to hard on it, but always remember it.

That moment was the a placement in the timeline of your life where the old you died. You were getting ready to be reborn and didn’t even know it. Ugh, I just can’t believe how far you have come.

After that, you started to realize how to navigate your life a little more. You began to realize what you were going to have to do and how you were going to have to be brave and fight!

Look at you here! You looked great!

Sure you have to walk with a cane for a little while…it made you distinguished. Remember that moment too and think hard on how you felt then. You were getting your bearings. You were learning how to work around the constant struggle of walking and getting back into the swing of things.

That December was a cold one for sure. You had come to terms with the idea that you might not make it. You told me “If I don’t make it through this, at least I know it was in God’s plans. And God’s plans are just and good.

You realized that the people you love most, that they could hurt you in ways that you could have never imagined. You were jaded from them for a little while and honestly, you had every right to feel that way. Eventually you forgave them. It just took time.

You felt like the ones you loved the most walked away because they couldn’t handle seeing you that way. Who am I kidding, that’s the way it was. But you began to realize that it wasn’t that they didn’t love you or couldn’t stand the sight of you, they were dealing with their own emotions at that time. Truthfully, I think there was a part of you that wondered if you were ever going to make it. Spoiler Alert! You did!

Take a look at yourself here! It was your first chemo treatment. You didn’t have to do this alone! Remember, your partner was there with you. He never left your side. You were so brave and strong, even if you were pretty pissed you had to go back into the hospital for another four days.

That night wasn’t as bad as the others you would face in the future and that’s okay! It was good that you got an easy transition into what your life was going to be for the next seven months.

I remember you told me in the mirror that night when you were finally able to go home “I’ve got this. I think I can do this.” You were so right…as usual. That didn’t mean the first treatment didn’t come with its challenges. You felt pretty good at first. You even told your mom that you hoped you’d be the lucky case that wasn’t going to lose his hair. You believed that and held onto it. Then the day came that your worst fears were becoming a reality.

You were playing the video game while your partner was resting because he was sick. You felt a tickle on the back of your neck and when you went to brush it, that’s when you felt it. The one thing that you hoped wouldn’t happen, started and there was nothing you could do. When you pulled your hand back and saw that clump of brown hair, your heart sank into the pit of your stomach. You hoped it was just a mistake and decided to brush your hand through your hair and realized that it wasn’t. It was coming out.

You began to panic and the first thought that ran through your mind was “are you kidding me right now?” Well maybe not that PG, there was a few other choice vocabulary words that you used, but we don’t have to say what they were.

You texted the people you loved what was happening and you even told your partner while he was laying in bed. You wanted so badly to scream and cry. It was building up inside of you like the pressure of lava in a volcano. Bless your heart. You tried to hold it together. I remember when you were telling your partner about it you whimpered. The words came out broken.

You felt like there was a part of you that didn’t think he cared. That didn’t think he noticed what was happening. He reassured you that this would happen, but that’s not what you wanted. You wanted him to hold you and tell you “no matter what happens, you will always be beautiful to me.” That didn’t happen though. It wasn’t his fault. You didn’t know it at the time, but in his mind he felt that he was going to lose you. That you would be in a box 6 feet under. I agree that wasn’t fair to you, but what he faced and dealt with wasn’t the same as you.

I remember you telling me that you were going to be okay. You said that a lot. I loved how you reassured yourself. It wasn’t until you got in the shower and as the water hit your head, that you broke. You needed too. You watched as clumps of hair rolled down your body like dead seaweed in the bay. It slid down to your feet and rested on the drain. There was so much of it. I watched you cry and yell. You even began punching the shower walls when it happened. You cursed and even sat down shower floor and cupped your face in your hands. I cried with you. God knows I cried with you.

But look what you did though! You took your power back and decided that you may not be able to control what chemo does to your hair, but you could control when and how you would lose it. So you shaved it off! And I’ve got to say…when you did that, it turned me on! You were so brave in that mirror shaving your head. You cried and then just started laughing because you knew it wasn’t going to beat you. You weren’t going to allow it. And I must say, you look hella fine bald! I’d date you.

After you realized that you were stronger than the cancer in your body, you started to grow that day. That pile of ashes that you became, was the womb that you would grow in.

For months after that, you pulled yourself together and pushed through the fear and picked up your sword and shield. It was time to go to war and you were damned if you were going to lose. Take a look at these pictures of you! Look at your smile! You decided that you were worth fighting for!

And then there is this one! It was your second treatment! I mean, talk about smolder!! You sat in that chair and did that process all by yourself. You had great nurses!

You soon realized the chemo wasn’t the worst part of this process or was the hair loss which sucked, it was the shot after chemo that was a bitch. I remember you coming to the shower the first night you got it and how much you cried because of the pain. I remember you telling me that you wanted your partner to rub your back, to help you find comfort, and he didn’t because he had a long day himself. Again, you realized much later that he just didn’t know. He didn’t understand what you were going through and that is okay. You can’t know what you don’t know.

For weeks after that you did the treatments and got the shots. You started thinking that you were doing this all by yourself. In truth, you were. YOU got yourself back and forth to your appointments. YOU suffered in silence while you did it. There was so many times you wanted to scream “Do you even care!” There was a part of you that might have resented him. Your heart broke a little because of it. You pushed through though. You realized that if you were going to have to do this yourself, then you were going to do the damn thing and not hold back. You had become a warrior! A fighter!

Of course those negative emotions that you were dealing with were just emotions that you felt in the moment. The fact was, while you were suffering, he was always suffering. Getting cancer isn’t something that you can just navigate around easily. It’s full of complicated emotions and feelings that really are hard to completely explain. It was the jigsaw puzzle that neither one of you knew how to put together, but you both did the best you could.

You realized though, he was there for you in other ways. He was supporting you in ways that you couldn’t see at the time. You had to wait until it was the right time to address it all. To discuss what you were feeling and give him the chance to do the same. It became clear that night. The amount of love that he had and continues to have for you is unbelievable! He was your secret warrior and you didn’t even realize it, not right away.

Take a look at this picture though! You were coming to terms with everything. You began to realize to a point, what you were going through. But the one thing that you continued to do through this process was lean on God and continue to seek out Joy, and baby, you had both. You still do!

I remember the day you got the news that you hit remission. Your partner was there with you. The night before you were so worried it had gotten worse and that things weren’t going to get better. You still held onto your faith though.

The day you found out that you were cancer free, your partner was there with you. In that moment when those words left your doctors mouth, you watched the man you love completely break down. The weight of it all had fallen off his shoulders. I remember you told me that you felt your own heart swell up. Not because of hearing the news, but because you saw the emotions flowing from your partner’s face. My God! It was a wonderful feeling! You were able to see him shed the pain that he was feeling and the fear. He was free of those chains just like you were. I bet you didn’t realize that you were chained together? That’s okay. That’s what revelations are for.

The exact words from your doctor were “there is no sign of cancer in your bones. It’s as if it were never there. The lesion that was made from the biopsy had also completely healed. You are cancer free.” In that moment you knew that God had answered your prayers. He didn’t just show up, He showed all the way out! I cried with you that night when you were alone. You had so many emotions going through you.

If anything, this picture really shows how strong you actually are!

With strength though, comes weakness. I know you have been dealing with a lot of other emotions recently. You’ve been dealing with anger and frustration, asking “What did I do to deserve tbis.” You’ve always been a late bloomer, so it doesn’t surprise me that you have some late emotions.

You are tired and ready to be done with chemo. You’re ready to get back to your old life, but that life it dead. You’re no longer that person anymore. You’re not shy or afraid to be who you truly are. I know you’re ready to work and get back into the swing of things, but there is something that you need to remember: give yourself grace. You’ve gone through something that most people don’t have to face. You were tempered by the world and made into a stronger steal. Those ashes are starting to fall away from you. Your wings are beginning to catch fire! Your true self is getting ready to emerge. When it does, be ready, because the world will be your oyster. You will have every opportunity to achieve higher goals than you ever thought you could.

You told me the other day that when you looked back at this experience, that is was enlightening. There was a part of you that was thankful that you got to go through it. It brought you closer to God, to your family, and most of all, it brought you closer to yourself.

You told me that you took some time recently to have a moment to yourself. The chemo has been working on your body and you are more tired than what you were to begin with when starting the treatments. You told me that you went out and sat at the jetties and watched the water. You realized that the place that you lived in was no longer a place of sickness, but a place of healing and recovery.

What’s even more amazing, is that your partner is right there beside you. You both have met one another again and have began rebuilding from the ruins that crumbled around you. I’m so happy for you! You’ve got a good one in that man of yours. He showed up in the ways that he knew how. That’s the most important thing.

Cheers my beautiful friend. The real adventure is about to begin. So buckle up and enjoy the ride. I love you self. You deserve all the good the world has to offer.

Chemo Start Date: December 31, 2023

Chemo End Date: May 23, 2024

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Brandon Slesser
Change Your Mind Change Your Life

Free spirited, open minded, hopeless romantic, a little stubborn, and an avid thinker.