“Experiencing difficulty, especially intense emotion and things that often more than we’re ready for is really hard.”
– Elsa Kennedy
“In Sickness and in…”
Fiction. Based on a True Illness.
This journal entry is inspired by true events. Some of the characters, names, businesses, incidents, and certain locations and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. Any similarity to the name, character, or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional.
Trigger Warning: our program often motivates people to discuss their trauma. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, please, take a step back to address emotional flashbacks and trauma before continuing to push yourself. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or the National Suicide Hotline at (1-800) 273-8255.
Life is pretty good. I’m finishing my bachelor’s degree, I have great friends, an amazing connection with my family, excellent grades, good mental health, and I’m finally content with myself. Life is just starting and if it’s going to feel this good I can’t help but be excited. I had a rocky start to life and I’m finally at a calm part of it. But life has a way of throwing the worst things when you’re at your best.
I was feeling a little weird a couple of weeks back and went to the doctor to get a check-up. They did a couple of tests just to see if I was okay, and it was anything serious. The results are in, and I receive a letter in the mail to call my doctor and set up an appointment; which I do.
“You might have some abnormal cells and we want to do a biopsy,” the doctor says to me.
Questions overwhelm my mind, “What type of cells? Is it cancer? Why a biopsy? If it’s cancer, what precautions should I be taking now? Will I die?”
“Calm down. Let’s take it step by step. We don’t know anything yet. It’s just something abnormal in your body. Let’s schedule the biopsy, and after that, we can worry if we need to,” the doctor replies, but I start to feel tears gathering inside my throat. My stomach feels like it’s turning and I want to leave as soon as possible.
I schedule the biopsy, pay the doctor, and head to my car. I cry. Tears are falling so hard they wet my shirt. I don’t know how I’m going to call my parents, or even my friends to tell them that I have these cells. So I don’t. I continue to think about it, and head to my phone to research whatever these cells could be.
Cancer. Cancer. Cancer. That’s all I read. I shut off my phone and cried more. I cry until my head feels like it’s going to explode. I finally stop and call my mom. I tell her with tears escaping my eyes. She remains calm though, telling me not to worry that if it’s cancer, we’ll deal with it together. Her calmness soothes me. Which makes me somewhat be able to drive back home.
I had the biopsy. I was filled with anxiety all the way through it, but I got through it at least. Now the real hard part begins; the wait. Two weeks. Two weeks of misery. Two weeks filled with anxiety, tears, and nothing but my own thoughts weighing me down. I don’t even feel pain from the biopsy. All I feel is a darkness waiting for me.
These two weeks have made me question everything. About myself, about my family, my friends, my life. Not knowing is eating me inside and making my brain want to crush itself. I’m finally at the doctor’s office. Today is the day I know what will happen to me.
“It is cancer. We want to do more tests to see how aggressive it is, if it’s spread, everything we can found out,” the doctor says, but my mind is a blank.
I sit in the car and wait. For tears, for screams, for anything. But it doesn’t come. Instead, I turn on my car and drive. Drive all the way home. When I arrive, it’s when I feel it; the pain, the tears, the breakdown. I cry and cry. Every tear wanting to fall at once. My head feels like it’s exploding, my chest feels like it’s being strangled. I am not prepared for this, I am not ready to die just yet. I was finally in a good place, why now?
I fall asleep crying and wake up to my mother asking me what happened, making me cry more. I couldn’t bear and say the words to her. That would make it even more real somehow. I don’t want to make her suffer, she doesn’t deserve this either. Sometimes you see sickness around you but you think: “That isn’t going to happen to me, I’ll take care of my body and be able to live a healthy life, but that goes out the drain.” When it’s your time, it’s your time.
When your life feels like it’s about to crumble, the world doesn’t stop. You still have responsibilities, you still have to show up, and it sucks. It sucks because I’m feeling everything inside of me, but the outside doesn’t see it. I’m not afraid of dying. I just don’t want to die. I want to be able to see my sister grow up and have a family. I want to create my own family. I want to find a job I love and be able to fulfill my dreams. I don’t want my parents to lose a child. I don’t want them to feel all that pain that will haunt them. But, it’s God’s plan over mine.
So I do the only thing I can do, pray. I pray every night by myself. I pray for strength. I pray for peace. God helped my grandmother who also had cancer. He will help me as well. I will fight this, and I will be fine. I am not the first person nor the last one to deal with sickness. I have a great support system to help me. That doesn’t mean it won’t be easy. Expect the best but be prepared for the worst. I will be fine.
It isn’t anything aggressive. A simple procedure and I will be okay. At least, that’s what the doctor says. I will be okay. The heaviness feels lighter. It’s still there but there’s hope now too. I think the best and I think the worst. My thoughts are playing in a seesaw, going up and down, confusing me. I don’t know how to feel somedays. I want the best, but the worst creeps on me.
“We were able to get everything out, you are going to be fine. No chemo, no treatments, no pills, you are able to live your normal life,” the doctor says, and I feel like I could really breathe for the first time in months. There is nothing more gratifying than being told they got everything out. I will be fine. I will be okay. I have a chance at a great life. It’s amazing to be able to tell that to my parents and to my friends. I’m around for the long haul.
Recovery is a little painful but I would so much rather feel this pain than feel that heaviness again. What I do feel is pain for the people that don’t get that chance. Which is why I decide I will live life as best as I can. For those who can’t. We’re all here on borrowed time and it’s important to live it, to do as best as you can and love as much as you can.