With each tick of the clock I am reminded that my breaths are numbered.
My first time walking after my first brain surgery. I look at this picture as a daily reminder of how far I have come, and how my (now) husband has always been there for me.
Listening to: Paramore
It’s been some time since I’ve felt the frustration, emotional hurt and overwhelming heaviness that accompany failure. Of course I’ve failed exams and been disappointed in myself in the past, but since I was diagnosed with this cancer I changed my way of thinking to believe in “dancing in the rain” or simply making the best out of a not-so-great situation.
Today, despite the fact that I have “Dance in the rain” tattooed on my collarbone, I ironically felt as if I was drowning in that rain. Why? Well, I failed at the basic dance class that I took after a four-year hiatus. I mentally prepared myself for what was to come, giving myself a pep talk along the lines of, “Just try your best! What other ballerina is fighting brain cancer? ”. Physically, I made sure I stretched my old and achy body long before I went to class knowing that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the young and agile bodies around me. However, bout five minutes into the class I quickly learned that I didn’t prep as much as I thought.
Given verbal direction and counts of simple ballet movements somehow got jumbled and lost in the crater in my brain where the tumor once lay. While the other girls swiftly moved in synchronized movements across the floor, my mind was a flurry of verbal processing, all while my body attempted to keep its balance and decipher what my brain was trying to tell it. Frustration kicked in, and I felt myself burn with hurt and embarrassment. Why couldn’t I do these simple things? I made it onto varsity dance team my senior year, and I was physically able to go on runs, so I was utterly confused with what was going on.
After fighting back my tears and enduring the grueling hour of humiliation, I made it back to my car and cried with a heavy heart cursing cancer and what it had done to me. Dance was always my safe haven and outlet during my pre-psychologist seeing days, and I just wanted to be able to tap into that again.
As I write this I still am contemplating if I’ll ever be able to muster up the courage to give it another shot. It was a hurtful reality-check for me. Cancer has essentially taken away my ability to do some thing I love. I could always practice in the comfort of my home, but I don’t think it’ll yield that same satisfaction. I keep telling myself that this incident is all in my head and that I need to go back to thinking positively. I need to really think about what these side effects of surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy have done to my body and work past it all so that I’ll never feel like a failure again.
Failure is a mindset.
“Stepping onto a brand-new path is difficult, but not more difficult than remaining in a situation, which is not nurturing to the whole woman.” – Maya Angelou
I close my eyes and just take in the air, I breathe in the chords, the bass
and my pulse are one. I am okay. I am safe.
My mind settles and the consciousness proceeds to slow and become the weightlessness I crave. It’s the ecstasy that I remember without a pill, it’s the full force of being submerged in each note, dripping slowly but surely through a pinhole into my soul.
It is alive and it has consumed me, again.
“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” ― Ray Bradbury
I am exhausted from all the chemotherapy, from getting stabbed and injected with meds, and from feeling this way.
So I will write, in my journal, on my blog, but for my own well-being.
The Naked & Famous (In Rolling Waves)
Despite all of the bumps in the road, I can’t help but feel blessed. Yes, I hate that I get extremely exhausted after chemotherapy, and I have become a housewife who on occasion will venture out into the world. I can’t help but see all of the fabulous things people post on their sites, their amazing grown up jobs, their newest accomplishment, and so on. For a faint second a speck of envy lingers in my heart, but just as quickly as it was sparked, it gets crushed by a sense of calm in knowing that I have what many people may not, true relationships which contain real love. It is a love that allows me to continue fighting in all my sickness and the nonsense that encompasses this world.
Growing up in an environment where love, emotions and feelings are not fostered, I had a no real idea of how to express myself, but through experiences, depression, and ruined relationships, I’ve come pretty far. I have learned the importance of acceptance, compromise, and truly being able to express how I feel in all forms of communication. When it comes to love, whether it’s your special someone, your parents, or a best friend, all of those things are important.
As far as a special someone being concerned, I truly believe with my entire being that I lucked out. I was blessed enough to meet, who I believe is my soul mate. That person who I have known and loved in a past life, and was fortunate enough to come across in this lifetime.
From the start of our relationship, I was very frank and communicated exactly what I wanted, what I was going through, and let him know that if he saw it as too much baggage, he could leave, no hassle, no argument. I believed at that time that I emotionally, financially and whatnot was able to be independent, and didn’t need to get involved unless it was worth it. I suppose I had too much pride at the time to let someone in.
Yet here I am, two years, countless emotional episodes (mainly on my part), three brain surgeries, ongoing cancer treatments, a handful of real arguments later, and we’ve made it. From the get go, we promised that we would never go to sleep mad at one another, we always talked things through, never held grudges, never screamed at the other, accepted the flaws, and adjusted to the changes. We’re getting married in December, and each day I learn more and more about him, our relationship, and most importantly myself.
Whether it’s building a relationship with your mom, friend or significant other, know that “love is a journey, not a destination”.
Listening to Skream
I’ve recently been made more aware of the negative stigma mental health has in our society.
Recently, my Neuro-oncologist brought it to my attention that it was a good idea for me to think about taking anti-depressants. I think I sat for a good few minutes and shifted my eyes between the light switch on the wall and his face. He listed off the possible side effects that I didn’t pay attention to at the time. I said yes, took them home and pulled the bottle out before bed. That staring contest between myself, and the bottle was all too familiar.
When I started college I was in the exact same position. At that time, I was unable to cope with the reoccurring nightmares of past traumatic events. I think that there was a sense of shame in admitting it. Admitting that I needed extra help, and I couldn’t do it with just my internal pep talks every morning and night. “No, I can just go to counseling for this, I’m fine”, is what I told myself as I stuffed the bottle into my sock drawer at the time. , I was stubborn and saw it as cheating, and I felt that I was strong enough to fight these demons on my own.
It’s been over a month since I recently started taking the anti-depressants, and I feel the difference. It’s not the fake happy I assumed it would be. It is a sense of overall calmness, there’s now an absence of irritability on a daily basis, and I find it a little bit easier to not wallow in sadness. I realized that my mental health is just as important as my physical health. If I am fighting this terminal illness, I want to be happy throughout the journey, and at the end, regardless of the outcome.
Yes, things get tough as we cope with events that have passed. Facing depression, anxiety, or anything dealing with our mental health doesn’t have to be a scary thing. Controlled medication for these illnesses is a tool in recovery. If you’re not feeling okay, that’s okay. If you need a helping hand with sorting out your thoughts, seeking professional help is okay. I find no shame or discomfort in announcing that I need help because it will allow me to be okay at the end of the day. I have learned to accept all forms of help, professional, familial, et cetera, because what I’ve gone through personally isn’t something I can handle on my own, and that’s okay.
[Listening to: The Naked & Famous]
Respect. I’ve come to understand it very well, but in my family almost everyone seems to demand it without returning it. This puts me in a tight spot because I’m extremely frank, but also very respectful of my elders. So I almost always hold my tongue, and just brush it off as much as I can. Believe me, I’ve had my fair share of arguments and blow-ups inside and outside of my family, but after a day like today, I can’t seem to brush it off. So here I am.
I started planning for my wedding, as joyous as it’s supposed to be, I’ve gotten an earful of opinions and so called suggestions. I’ve heard enough variations of “You’re SO young, you don’t have stability, etc.”. I always have to ask myself, whose life am I comparing mine to? Is it the norm that society has created, everyone else’s marriage, or the standards that my family placed on every generation after them? It’s mentally exhausting.
Cancer has stripped me of a lot of physical strength, hair on my head, and some self-esteem. As I’m trying to rebuild all of these aspects and more, I have a battle against people who are pulling me down by not truly believing. People who say that I’m only getting married because I have cancer and will die early, people who say I better wear a wig on my wedding day or it’ll be embarrassing, or people who just don’t believe that a perfectly healthy 23 year old should be condemned to a life with a terminally ill cancer patient.
Why is it that they’re so fearful of this cancer when I am the one battling it? I am not afraid of other people thinking that I’m ugly and half bald, because I feel beautiful and strong. I am not afraid of the length of our future because it’s an adventure I wouldn’t want to miss. These fears that they have will not consume my thoughts, nor will it stop me from declaring that I want spend the rest of my life with him.
I refuse to hear them tell me how to live my life. I believe that I have to learn how to love the life that I am leading, because it’s all that I’ve got. There is nobody that will dictate my actions, tell me what I’m going to wear or not wear, or say that I can’t get any more tattoos, or tell me what I should be scared of.
I already have brain cancer, and I will not allow fear to become another sickness within me.