Why is it always easier to write about the darkness in our lives? When I’m feeling down the words flow out of me like water. So today I attempt something different. I feel that it’s time for a more positive blog post. I’m not saying that all of my previous posts have been negative but they haven’t always been about sharing good news. That’s the reality of my story and my journey with cancer; it’s not always pretty. I’m not going to lie and say that I wake up every day and feel that I am going to beat this thing, but lately I am starting to feel more and more ‘normal’.
I have continuously described cancer as a cloud that hovers over me. Some days it’s larger than others but it’s always present. There was a time where I thought about cancer every day. Multiple times a day it would occupy my mind. Since my last scan I can honestly say that the cloud is now very small and sometimes I don’t notice it at all. There are even moments where I forget that I am dealing with such a horrible thing, and unless someone brings it up or I hear a story about another patient’s tragic cancer story, it’s not on my mind.
It’s actually quite weird to not think about it. I remember Lynne telling me that things like this become part of your identity. I thought that she was crazy and that I would never want to identify myself as a cancer patient. Who would want that? But she’s right, there’s something inside of me that does identify with this illness that I have been carrying around for much too long.
The awesome thing about that is that I am conscious of it. I know that I have become this ‘guy with cancer’. I think part of me actually liked the attention that it brought and all of the help that came with it. There was always someone around to help me with anything I wanted. You get use to it and eventually start to rely on it. I know that sounds selfish but it’s the truth.
However, that is not how I want to live my life. The goal is to become the ‘guy who beat cancer’ or simply just ‘another guy enjoying his life’. I want nothing more. Happiness is all that I pursue. So the beauty of being conscious of the cancer identity that I have built is that I can now change it. I want to be known for other things. I want to be recognized as the guy who took a horrible diagnosis and turned it into something positive. I don’t want people to feel sad for me or to not share their stories of struggle because they feel that it can’t compare with what I am going through. This is not how I want people to feel around me.
It’s a balancing act where I am at today. There’s part of me that wants to go back to my old ways, eating whatever I want and drinking whatever I desire, but there’s another part of me that knows that this is not what is best. Over the past few months I have consciously let go of some of the more healthy habits I had created. I think it was a test. And the test failed because I now feel less alive than I did before. I feel less stressed, however I don’t have the energy that I did when I was being more diligent with my lifestyle choices. I’m not going to lose any sleep over it because I realize that the stress is unhealthier for me than anything I could eat or drink. What I do know is that I need to find a better balance between the two. I will never be a raw foodie or completely vegan again but I know I can create a lifestyle that is less stressful and healthier. I am just being realistic with myself.
So as I sit here and drink my green smoothie I reflect on the fact that I will be 36 tomorrow. When I was diagnosed I had just turned 30. It actually brings tears to my eyes to see those numbers on the screen. I have made it 6 years! When I was diagnosed in 2009 I truly believed that I would be lucky to make it to 32. Wow!
What truly makes me happy today is that we are now talking about the future. When Lynne use to try to discuss the future with me I became very irritated. I felt insulted that she wanted me to think forward. I was so caught up in the illness that I didn’t believe there would ever be a future. So why even talk about it? Today I feel different. I’m not sure my future will be as long as yours but I do know that there IS one. That I DO have time left to pursue some of the dreams that I have. This brings a smile to my face and creates an energy that I haven’t felt in a very long time.
In 2009 I remember crying in (unborn) Stella’s room and praying that I would live long enough for her to remember me. That wish has now come true and I have created so many things for her and Gwen to remember me by if things take a different turn. This past weekend was spent with my family at the lake I grew up on. I watched Stella and Gwen experience what I did as a child and it made me glow from the inside. That lake is a special place of mine and is where I go during visualizations if things get tough. To see them at this place brought me nothing but pure joy.
So on the eve of my 36th birthday I can say that I am at a good place and I am happy. And that’s simply all that matters!
P.S. If you didn’t already know, our apparel has launched and is ready to be ordered. We are thrilled to be donating 10% of all sales to our Ten Percent Promise Foundation. The funds raised will go to support families who have been diagnosed with cancer. These families need help and we want to provide it with simple acts of kindness. Help us help them focus on what’s important. Click here to help us make that happen!
Sign up for the newsletter and