Life Update

I got in.

I received an email a couple weeks ago that informed me in a roundabout way I had been accepted into the UNL College of Journalism’s IMC program for the fall semester. I plan to start taking CBA classes in June.

I’m excited. Happy. I feel like I at least have a three-year plan, something that sent terror screaming through my body when I tried to envision even living for three more years.

But how am I now, really?

The endless turmoil of trying to figure out my new normal life in has caused more anxiety than ever. Where is my motivation to leave my mark on this world? All I see being portrayed by other survivors are the “fuck it” mentality, packing up and exploring every facet of the world, while I’ve settled easily back into my life before cancer. Am I surviving wrong?

I have an unfinished blog saved explaining the sheer panic leading up to my annual CT scan in January. Only a few people know of the absolute chaos that took control of my New Year’s Day. I was sending panicked text to anyone to hop in a car and drive across the country with me. Those could have been my last days before recurrence and I wasn’t doing anything significant. I didn’t want to waste my last hours.

The scans came back clear. Life moved on.

I went on a cruise, and realized my inability to talk about cancer to people I didn’t know. I had no answer when people asked why I was on this trip, as most were celebrating life events, like my dad’s retirement. I’ve never been one to seek being the center of attention. Any discussion would surely lead to sad eyes or worse, having to answer an endless series of questions in a round-table fashion.

I hope I got food poisoning a couple weeks ago. The months leading up to my diagnosis are running parallel to my odd but not significant symptoms of getting “food poisoning” twice in the exact same time frame as 2013. I got so upset I had to call my oncologist to calm me down; they scanned me a couple months ago, there was nothing there. I’m not sleeping for 15 hours at a time, so I just have to sit tight until my April check-up.

I got better. Life moved on.

I question regularly how I should be interacting with the people that flooded into my life, and the little impact they have now. I try to reach out to them, feeling like I’m acting unappreciative for all they did. But their lives have moved on too. Is this just the normalcy of being sick? People rush in, they help and love, and then they move on. I feel guilty for not being able to provide the same care, attention, and support for them that they provided to me.

When I meet other cancer survivors, I feel like they try to compete with me over who knows more, had it worst, or dealt with it the best. People who I thought I could commiserate with see me as competition. Or, they make me feel guilty for not doing more now. I like beer, sugar, crummy fast foods, and non-vegan everything. I haven’t founded my own local cancer fighters group, or participated in any cancer-awareness events.

I still feel lost in so many ways.

I’m back to seeing coincidences. My past experiences and revelations tell me I need to follow them, which is leading me in a new and unexpected path. Maybe this year’s big changes are still on the horizon.


Author: Clarissa A.

The older I get, the less I know.

2 thoughts on “Life Update”

  1. Hey Enforcer (excuse me, I mean THE Enforcer)! I am so grateful you have the courage to openly share your vulnerability, I learn so much from you with your insights and observations. What really struck me this time was the “commiserate vs. competition” – a very unique and candid perspective. And I love how you put it out there about your diet (as I’m writing this with a mouthful of double frosted chocolate peanut butter cookie ). I don’t have any advice but feel you are surviving the best you can and perhaps as each clean scan is a distant memory, your scanxiety will slowly diminish. I’m thrilled for your new adventure and your new and unexpected path will surely lead you to new and unexpected joy. We love you!

  2. There is no right or wrong way to survive. You are doing it and that’s all that matters. I’m not sure how one could ever compare their experience to yours. Even the same diagnosis or the same chemo/surgery/radiation/etc. We all handle things differently, feel things differently, and experience them differently. And yes, some people become a very big part of your life for just a little while. And it stays with you forever. They supported and helped you because that’s what they wanted to do. You’ll do (and probably already do) the same for someone else.

    Being nervous and scared IS normal. I did the same for years. And each year, it got a little better. This year when I got bloodwork done, I actually spazzed out because I WASN’T worried. And then I worried that not worrying would somehow make my results show cancer again. I struggle with lack of control all the time now. Sometimes I am so thankful that I learned so much at a young age. But sometimes, it would be really nice to just be naive again. Just for 1 day to feel invincible again.

    It’s rough. Sometimes I forget how hard it was and then I read your posts and it all comes back so vividly. But then you also remind me of just how precious life is. Because that is easy to forget too. So hold on to every emotion. Whether it is fear or joy or love or anger. You are alive! So be whatever kind of survivor you want to be. We know, only too well, that you could do everything right and get diagnosed or do everything wrong and live to 100. So find that spot in the middle somewhere. I quit some things that I felt would increase my risk of cancer without adding enough joy. But I’ll never be vegan. And I still love to feel the sun on my face. Life has to be worth living. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

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