Before I found out that the !@#$ cancer was back, I wanted to start a blog. I wanted to document my journey… for my kids someday, and as a way for me as a survivor to move forward. I also wanted to start blogging, though, because when I was dealing with surgery and chemo and radiation and all the gazillion of physical and emotional changes, I found that the professionals’ advice was one thing — but that I really learned from the people in “the trenches”. So, if I was dealing with something, I would google a phrase like “chemo nose sores blog” (and yes, it’s pretty surreal to type those words in a search engine, and good LORD are those evil and hard to clear up) and then I would get directed to a blog entry.
Here’s one reason why I did NOT want to start a blog…inevitably I would get directed to some entry buried in the blog, and I would read it and get sucked into the story, so I’d start reading the blog from the beginning to the present, and it always ended with the PERSON FREAKING DYING!!! So, listen up, oh non-existent reader (my brother warned me it would be weird to write this to nobody), I have NO INTENTION of dying. I mean, yeah, whatever… everyone dies at some point, and it looks like I probably know what will eventually get me, but I will not give in to this vile bully anytime soon. This momma bear has 2 little cubs still and I *WILL* see them through high school. Just saying.
Another reason I did NOT want to start a blog… I’m a little afraid it will turn out like every diary I ever got as a kid. Where I would ramble on and on until… January 6th. And then the whole rest of the book would be blank. I think in my Hello Kitty one I made it to January 9th, but the 7th, 8th, and 9th all said the same thing: “Dear Diary, I don’t have anything to say, so bye!” I do have lots and lots to say this time, and my thought is that by putting it out into the blogosphere there will be sufficient pressure on me to perform. Plus, I got a text message from a fabulously talented and seriously funny blogging friend who said she wanted to write my story. And mentioned wine. So I will gladly drink wine, and take the blogging help. Because I say yes now. (There’s a lesson there, too.)
So, this is my first entry. I had to get the introduction out of the way, but what I really wanted to write about here is hope. In 2nd and 3rd grade, Cub 1 started all his school papers by saying what they were going to be about. So, here we go. My name is Jessica and this paper is about HOPE.
A funny thing happened to me on the way to this cancer bar. The first time around, everyone felt compelled to tell me their stories of loss, and of all the people they have known that didn’t win the battle. Kinda like when you are pregnant and everyone (EVERYONE) has to touch your belly and tell you their horrific birth story (as if there is any backing out at that point, just saying). It was really sad and played into some component of my Jewish guilt that I somehow was surviving. This time, though, everyone wants to tell me their survivor stories. Which is AWESOME…. except that it is always followed up by the crazy stuff they did. So it’s like, “My friend had stage 4 cancer and totally beat it! He just only ate foods that started with the letter ‘k’, stood on his head for 3 hours a day, and did coffee enemas every 6 hours!” Now, I love coffee as much as the next mom, but there is a limit. Given that I can’t stand on my head to save my life (ahem), and any diet that doesn’t include wine at this point is unacceptable… this kind of information, while interesting, doesn’t really calm those potentially long dark nights. (And I digress for a moment here because all this is sounding REALLY snotty, and truly – TRULY – I appreciate ANY show of support and ANY story that is shared in the spirit of inspiration… I’m just talking about HOPE here, remember?) So. Back on track here. My brother David (for those zero readers, the one that started this blog for me, not sure whether to thank or curse him, I’ll let you decide) called me and said, “Hey… remember (so-and-so)? Well, his mom was diagnosed with 6 months to live, and that was 12 years ago!” [Silence.] “Well, what did she do?” I asked (because remember, that is always the next part of the story). “Nothing. She just lived!” So, YUP. I will take that. I choose that. I choose LIVING. That will be my focus. So, yes… I have cancer. A really shitty kind. But, what if I don’t make that number one? What if I focus on being the best mom, daughter, sister, friend, and teacher I can be? (Full disclosure: kinda got the daughter and sister ones nailed already since I am the only one.) Cancer will not be what defines me. And if some google search regarding a cancer diagnosis got you here, that is today’s lesson. JUST CHOOSE LIVING. My head is not in the sand, and I’m not cruising down da Nile River. I know what potentially lies in front of me… but I also know what surrounds me right now. I AM INCREDIBLY BLESSED. I am in awe and humbled by the amazing generosity of love and spirit and kindness and compassion, and also all kinds of tangible things, that my family, friends, and community have showered on the little cubs and me. I love my kids and I love my life. I CHOOSE LIFE!
And, now I have to go a lacrosse game. I’ll be back. I was trying to think of a witty way to end these posts. Lots of people have cancer blogs, and they always end their posts the same way, with something really motivating and inspirational… but here is what is really in my heart…
Hey Cancer? FUCK YOU.