Tag Archives: cancer

“Goddamn, aren’t you something else?”

Hello.

I could offer a thousand apologies for my lack of communication over the last couple of months, but honestly, I don’t really have one.  I could blame it on a sudden, sever depressive episode and explain that I neglected my coursework as well as my blog (I withdrew from my classes in a fit of existentialism.  I start anew on Monday) and while it may be true, to use it as an excuse or a reason feels fake.  I don’t want to apologize to you because I’m not entirely sure what I did was wrong.

But this is not what I wanted to talk to you about.  I want to talk about Love.  Yep, Capital-L-Love.  And death, but that’ll come later.

I believe that Love separates us from the “lesser” beasts.  I don’t mean to imply that I think animals other than humans are incapable of feeling love because that’s not true.  I know without a doubt in my soul that every living being is capable of feeling some kind of love.  I think that love separates us because of how we feel love and what expectations we place on it.

Every single human being that has ever lived and all those who will ever live yearn for a love story.  And that’s the beautiful thing about love; we all yearn for an epic love story and we will all have the chance to live a love story.  It may not be the love story you were looking for, yearning for, wanting, but it is a love story none the less. Perhaps you’ll find a man who makes you feel like a beautiful and precious thing, to be loved and protected.  Perhaps you’ll find a woman who makes you feel like the tragic hero of your own life.  Perhaps you’ll find that job, you know the one, the one that you spend every waking moment thinking about (in some form); the one you wake up excited to go to each day.  You know that type of excitement, the terrible excitement that makes you feel like you’re going to explode and collapse, all at the same time.  Maybe you’ll find your love story in rescuing puppies, or building great things to further society.  Maybe you’ll find it in the mundane; coffee, grass, sunlight.  Every single one of us finds something, someone, some thing to be irrevocably in love with.  Most people, in my experience, don’t recognize their tragic and beautiful love stories until it’s too late.

Which brings me to the subject of death.  I sit here, dear reader, in a Captain America t-shirt to talk to you about death.  My reasoning for both my outfit and my telling you about it is twofold; Captain America is the bravest, steadiest person I could think of (real or fictional) and last week I re-read the Civil War series in which (Spoiler Alert) Captain America dies.  Let me repeat that, the steady, brave, uncompromising and seemingly invincible Captain America dies.  Departs from the land of light and life.  Shuffles loose this mortal coil.  He does not go quietly into the night, he dies in blood and noise.  (And it destroys Tony Stark.  Because Death has less effect on the dead than it does on those left behind.  But that’s neither here nor there, not what I want to talk about.)

I don’t fear death in a traditional sense.  I mean, everyone fears death, at least a little, but I more fear the thought of oblivion than I fear the thought of death.  I don’t fear the idea of being forgotten, because it’s inevitable.  I don’t fear that I won’t have made my mark on this world, I have.  I have left irreparable scars on the lives and hearts of those who love me.  I don’t fear the day when those I’ve loved and known are gone and there is no one left to remember me.  I fear oblivion in my loss of self.  I don’t profess to know or believe anything beyond the immediate.  I don’t know if there is a heaven or hell or afterlife or reincarnation.  And it’s the not knowing that terrifies me.  I can handle heaven.  I can handle hell.  I can handle the idea of a thousand lives collapsing on a single soul.  I can handle any of that.  It’s the idea that there is no afterlife, that we simply stop being, as if we never were, that terrifies me.  It’s the same reason I’m scared to death of Alzheimer’s and Senile Dementia.  Because everything that makes me me, that differentiates me from any of the other 7 billion souls on this planet, is suddenly gone.  All of my personality, my memory, the things that make me a unique and beautiful snowflake.  In theory, it would be locked inside, but if I’m unable to access it, what does it matter?  In that moment, I cease to be.  Until the next lucid moment, when I come back to myself.

That, dear reader, is what terrifies me.

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I recently read a book by a man named John Green called The Fault in Our Stars.  Simply put, it’s a love story about teenagers with cancer.  It’s horribly depressing, existentially provoking and one of the most beautiful and near-perfect things I’ve ever read.  I don’t want to talk much about it, because I’ll probably ruin it for you.  But please, track this book down and read it.  And cry.  And seek out your own love story.  Some infinities are bigger than others; seek out what makes you feel infinite and hold on as long as you can.


Hey, let’s talk about cancer!

… Because, you know, that’s funny, right?

I know I promised to make with the funny today, but I had a really disturbing dream last night that I had cancer.  The 80% chance it’s going to kill you ‘cuz it’s in your brain type of cancer.  The dream also involved me trying to seduce Seth Rogan (who also had cancer) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  There were guest appearances by Cancer Survivors (who I’m pretty sure have never actually had cancer) The Fifth Doctor and Martha Jones.  Yeah, evidentially my subconscious really liked 50/50 and sees Doctor Who characters as the ultimate authorities on overcoming adversity.  So, let’s talk about cancer.

This isn’t something that I tell a lot of people, but I’m a cancer survivor.  I was incredibly lucky and we caught it early (basically, Stage 0).  I was 20 and bullet proof, so I just kind of rolled through it and didn’t think much about what was going on or the long term implications.  I don’t think I even told my ex-husband that it was anything more serious than “an abnormal pap smear”.  But I’m getting ahead of myself, let me start at the beginning.

In May of the year I turned 20, I went in for my annual “Women’s Wellness Exam”.  The results came back “abnormal”.  In June, I went in for a second pap smear and the results were moderate dysplasia.  I had a colposcopy in July.  The Colposcopy is a particularly awful piece of medicine that involves using a claw-type device to “bite off” pieces of your cervix to biopsy.  And it’s done with no anesthesia.  It sucked.  The colposcopy biopsies (they took three “bites”) all came back with Stage 0 Cervical Cancer.  Basically, Stage 0 is as early as you can catch it and have it still be cancer, not just high grade dysplasia.  So I had cancer.  Between being in the army and it taking several weeks to get the biopsy results, it was the beginning of October before I went in for the LEEP.  A LEEP is a Loop Electrical Excision Procedure.  They take a small loop of wire, charge it with electricity and use it as a scalpel/cautery tool to slice off the front of your cervix and cut out the cancerous cells.  Thankfully, this is done with anesthesia.  I had to have a pap done monthly for the first 3 months, then every 90 days until the one year mark, every 6 months for two more years before being officially “cleared” and thankfully, I’ve never had a single recurrence.

But the point is, I was lucky and it was caught early because I was in the habit of going in for regular women’s health exams.  Girls, you HAVE to go get pap smears, you HAVE to do at home breast exams.  It’s just too serious to ignore or put off.  Even if you’re not having intercourse, you need to go have a annual women’s health exam.  The consequences are just too dire if you don’t.  Cervical cancer is often completely asymptomatic until the advanced stages.  It’s no laughing matter, it’s a matter of life and death.  I know, no one likes going to the GYN, no one likes having their vagina rotor-rootered.  I don’t care, go anyway.