Quarter Life Crisis: Humbled

Soon after I was diagnosed with cancer the doctors started giving me the statistics of how unusual my case was and how lucky I was that it was caught when it was. I don’t know what school of bedside manner they got this from but I can tell you that I was not relieved. I didn’t want to hear that I was on the young end of those found with this type of cancer or that it was strange that it didn’t run in my family tree–I wanted to be well. I was severely underweight and scheduled for another surgery before I left the hospital. I was also booked on a flight back to California to see my family. My mom is in Atlanta but everyone else in my immediate family was there and wanted to see me asap!

I knew I would be taking a wheelchair out of the hospital but I didn’t realize how weak my body had become. I wasn’t using a wheelchair just because it was hospital policy but because I NEEDED it. I could not stand or walk without assistance. Not only were my plans dashed and my body had betrayed me but my pride was gone. I needed help for everything and I hated it. I didn’t want to need help, I didn’t want to feel so out of control, I didn’t want to be so lost….I wanted something to be normal when everything felt foreign. 

Soon after that second surgery I was at the airport getting ready for my flight to CA. At the curb I was presented with another wheelchair. Even knowing the weakness of my body and how exhausting this day would be I was offended. My down-but-not-out pride rose up and the words to deny the help rose in my throat. I would have hobbled through one of the largest international airports rather than accept help, that’s how deep my pride ran. Thankfully they wouldn’t take no for an answer. I can’t believe I was so humiliated to receive the help I needed. I was so sure people were looking at me and judging. I felt like every acceptance of help was admitting to myself that this was real. That I was really sick, that I was about to go through 6 months of chemotherapy, and that I was scared. I was so scared. I saw chemo and cancer as Mt. Everest and I had absolutely no mountain climbing training.

I got to my family and filled up on love. They showered, covered, and smothered me in love. Sure I had to be held up often but that just means I walked arm and arm with my Pops. It was exactly what I needed. I didn’t talk about it with everyone even though my diminished condition was noticed-I just needed the normalcy and companionship. Even as my whole life seemed to be upside down the people who loved me were my constant. They made it so it didn’t seem so scary. Getting back in my wheelchair for the plane ride back didn’t feel like an admission of defeat but a temporary situation. My only attempt to regain some control was to cut off all my hair the day before chemo. It wouldn’t have fallen out but I needed a new beginning, a physical representation of a starting point and on June 1st 2011 things went from ready,set to GO.

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