Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Universe IS Unfolding.

I am sure some people wonder why I share such intimate fears and feelings with the universe. All you have to do is Google my name & you can read about some of my most private thoughts. Why do I allow people into the little world that I call my own? Why do I risk future employers seeing me at my weakest? Why do I have any desire to share my hardest battle with absolute strangers?

I share my experiences because too many other people do not. Most people, myself included prior to melanoma, want to keep their private lives private. I respect that. When I was first diagnosed, I needed to read more than just statistics. Lord, if statistics were the only thing I read, I would have died of fear right then and there. I wanted to read what being diagnosed with cancer was really like. Was I supposed to cry in the shower? Was it OK that I smiled and laughed with my doctors instead of sobbing my way through appointments? Did it seem odd that I couldn't allow myself to grieve? I needed to hear about the emotional part! Being only 23 years old when I was diagnosed, I did not find many resources. According to Google, melanoma attacked mostly older folks many years after sunburns and tanning bed memberships. I thought that if someone my age, or especially younger, read about my fears & saw my not-so-attractive pictures, maybe they would think twice before they fell into the belief that melanoma is "just" skin cancer.

Another reason I continue to post my most intimate fears for the Internet world to see is because I receive so much positive feedback & advice. Yesterday I was really struggling when I wrote the blog post. As usual, I received wonderful advice from people who have already been through the steps I am going through now. The overall piece of advice they all agreed on was:

I have a hard time not being hard on myself. I realize the traumatic experience that I have been through; however, I like to speed through the grief process and get back to living my "normal" life. I'm not exactly sure that is healthy. And as I discussed in the previous post, I don't have the slightest clue what normal is anymore. In my head, there are certain things I should be doing now that I have No Evidence of Disease and I truly don't know how to just sit back and let the last 9 months sink into this big ol' head of mine.

I want to share a few other pieces of advice from fellow "mole mates" (Thanks to The Big C for that wonderful nickname.)

"When you know... you'll know. Until then, don't look so hard."

"Keep the long range big plan in mind, but a whole lot of life is short little slices of time that fall in between the bigger things you do."

"For now, I'd prescribe for you a large daily dose of living in the present. In the meantime, let the deep soul searching about life plans continue on in the subconscious reaches of your mind. The harder we search, the less we discern, and moments of insight may seem to come out of nowhere and at the most unexpected times and in the strangest places."

"If you discussed this with your parents and family, I'm sure they would say "Go, fly, live your life... We'll ALWAYS be here for you no matter what. You'll always have a safe place to land."

"Where are you going now? ANYWHERE YOU WANT!!! You can do it! Life is scary, growing up is scary, but cancer is SCARY! Just follow your heart!"

"He told me that if I lived with that fear, the Melanoma was already winning. Easier said that done, I know, but he was right. You HAVE to make plans like you will live until you are 100. It's ok to be scared, it's ok to question decisions, it's ok to have a moment where you worry about the the "what if". But ultimately you have to remember that you are ALIVE and you are a SURVIVOR. No one can predict the future and you can't miss out on things because you are worrying that something bad may happen. The good news is that your family isn't going anywhere. They will always be there for you if you need them. Now is the time to figure out what YOU want, regardless of your medical status. Melanoma does not define you and should not define your decisions!"

I hope this advice helps someone else who is facing such tough decisions...It sure helped me. Thanks, mole mates. I adore you.


Anonymous said...

A year after I was NED with stage 3c I was still waiting around. Something just snapped. I grabbed my 12 year old booked an Alaskan cruise and took off from Las Vegas but it took awhile to have that mentality dont be so hard on yourself. Then for 5 years I just lived. Its weird you go through the stages. I tried to do as much as i could-when else was i going to do it? You will find your way through it!

Kate said...

All great pieces of advice! I have always strived to lived by Henry Ward Beecher's quote: "Don't look back on happiness, or dream of it in the future. You are only sure of today; do not let yourself be cheated out of it." Thanks for sharing your inspiration Chelsea!