Monday, July 25, 2011

Dear Life, I Am Ready For You.

"Today, I interviewed a woman who is terminally ill. '
So,' I tried to delicately ask,
'what is it like to wake up every morning
and know that you are dying?'
'Well,' she responded,
'what is it like to wake up every morning
and pretend that you are not?'"

I saw this on a friend's Facebook status. Could it be more true? We as human beings know that eventually we are going to die. Sure, we all tend to live in denial and pretend that we are invincible; however, most of the people who read this blog already received a rude awakening that we are quite the opposite of invincible. Regardless of health issues, we wake up each day not knowing if it will be our last. Do we automatically worry? No.

Before melanoma, I did not think about death often. The idea of losing people close terrifies me. The idea of myself being the one passing was something I simply did not think about. I am 24 years old. I have the rest of my life to worry about dying, right? (We all assume the rest of our lives will include a great deal of years...) Then I got diagnosed with melanoma and I simply prayed I would get the opportunity to become older. Some people dread turning a year older. I admit, I thought my life would be a lot different at 24, but instead of cringing when I blow out 25 candles, I will celebrate. (I'm talking full fledged party style celebration....)

That brings me to the subject of living in fear. Yes, melanoma is incurable. Yes, in its advanced stages it is normally fatal. I realize that. I also realize that I could get in my car and get struck by a tractor trailer while driving home. I could fall down the steps in my fabulous heels and break my neck. I could be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Anything could happen. I cannot wake up every day wondering if the mind numbing headache is the result of a tumor in my brain. I can't freak out over the lump in my shoulder. I cannot constantly wonder if there are cancer cells floating around in my body.

Why bother having a NED life if you are not going to take advantage of it?

During my appointment on Friday, I told my oncologist, The Wizard, that I feel really great. I told him I feel better now than I have since my first surgery in January. I admitted that I feel guilty for feeling so good because that means I am probably receiving the placebo; however, I am OK with it because it is nice to be getting my life back. Both the nurse and the doctor said, "We are so glad to hear that." And it is true...There are no cures for melanoma, I know that, but if I am clear right now, shouldn't I get back to living my life?

Why should I fear for something that is entirely out of my control? Sure, if I have a "dirty scan, I will have fears. Yes, if my blood work shows a reason to be concerned, I will be paranoid. But, I can't stop living my life because melanoma may kill me one day. Something will kill all of us one day.

So, it is time. All summer long I said I was not going to make plans until after I finished treatment and received healthy scans in August. But, you know what? I want to begin making a life for myself again. More than ever, I know what I want out of life. Now it is time to work on getting it.


KayGee said...

I literally just squealed like a little girl when I finished reading this. Honey, if anyone should make a life for themselves and give it all the bells, whistles, bugles & beauty that the world has to offer, it should be YOU. I can't even tell you (but I'll try) how excited this makes me for you and for the world. Really. You being here and writing and speaking out and being YOU is making an impact and changing the way we all see our lives and the way we look at "sick" people. I couldn't be more proud to know you & love you like the amazing person you are & always will be.

Trudy Jane said...

Hi, bravo,well done, go for it! It has taken me a while to get to the place you are just arriving at. Melanoma is a part of me, a part of you, but it does not have to consume us and who we are, in spirit and in soul. Each day at a time, each step at a time, each prayer at night and each smile as we greet each day...there is a beautiful life to live. I am smiling for you! Trudy Neill

Ranisa said...

This is so true! We just had my father-in-law pass away from a heart attack. So may emotions because it was sudden. We never...never... know, and that is how we should live. I am starting to have a slightly raised heart rate for an upcoming doc appoitment on Wednesday.

Jenny said...

When I interviewed in Radiation Oncology, that's one thing I remember one of the nurses saying to me...Yes, this is a cancer center and some of our patients are going to die, but aren't we all at some point in time? She also said that these patients would bring so much "life" to the center and it is so true! So keep being a shining light girl! You are rocking this!

Tim said...

The people who know I have melanoma (and who understand what that truly means) are often extremely surprised when I try to explain to them how completely ambivalent I feel about the "end game" of this disease. Many just out and out tell me I must be in some sort of denial or they come up with some other armchair psychiatric explanation for why I can't possibly feel the way I do. Just let it out... be angry or sad or whatever, they tell me.

I'm sorry, but they're simply wrong. If I had a choice, is this what I'd choose? Obviously not, but that's exactly the point; I don't get to choose. It's out of my hands for the most part and whatever time I have left is going to be awfully miserable if I spend it thinking about it ending (what would our weekends or vacations be like if we started out from day 1 depressed and complaining about the fact that it was going to end come Monday).

The best way I've come up with to describe it is like this - The day immediately before I was diagnosed with melanoma, I had absolutely no idea how much time I had left in my life. Today, I am in exactly the same boat. The day before my diagnoses, I had no idea how I might die, but I could get hit by a car or have a heart attack tomorrow, so how is my life ANY different today? What's more, how is it really any different than their life? (well... other than the fact I have to go to more doctor's appointments than anyone I know and have become a connoisseur of the various flavors of contrast medium...)

I'm glad you're coming to a place where you can live with this, and I'm especially glad you're getting there early. I've met a number of people who struggle a lot more than I have, and it really frustrates me that I can't do more to help them along (and I really hope nobody who reads my comments think I'm belittling anyone who is in a different state of mind than I am. This is just me... I know that everyone has to handle these things in their own way and in their own time).

I go through my ups and downs, just like everyone does and I'm sure I'll have much stronger feelings about my prospects when/if I progress. Somehow though, I have to believe I'm going to find a way to deal with it in a positive manner because I want to enjoy every day that I have... which is exactly how I wanted to live my life the day immediately before my diagnoses...


nicole said...

so true! i love your blog, it's so honest, so real. i'm sorry that you are dealing with a difficult disease but am thoroughly amazed by your strength through it all!