This post morphed completely from my original intent as I wrote it. This post was supposed to be about lifestyle changes I’ve made since my diagnosis. Then, it became about those changes, about my family, and about life.
Writing is weird sometimes.
I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I’m really not. I don’t believe the pharmaceutical industry is sitting on the cure to cancer and thousands of oncologists across the nation know it. I don’t believe cancer is a conspiracy in any way.
I believe cancer is an indiscriminate jerk that happens due to a variety of reasons. I also believe it happened to me because craptastic things happen. I’ve known people who are the epitome of health and BAM! cancer and others who do everything in the book and don’t develop cancer. I have a family member who does it all. Drinks. Smokes. Drugs. Tanning booths. Overweight. No cancer. Yet, according to the study I referenced in a previous post, she does everything to put her at risk, high risk, for cancer at a younger age. So, to me, that pretty much proves cancer is an indiscriminate jerk, and no one can control when or how their cells decide to misfire or go out of control.
Despite all that, though, I have made some lifestyle changes because I want to in order to maybe give myself a chance at seeing my kids grow up. I drink more water. I’m trying to eat better. I’ve lost weight and would like to lose more. I’ve begun to take care of my emotional health better. I try really hard not to blame myself for things outside my control. I try not to take loved ones’ problems on as my own (that is REALLY hard for me not to do because I WANT to help them). I’m sleeping a little better, partially because we bought a new mattress and partially because when I’m tired, I put the iPad down and sleep (it’s not happening every night because my brain is a scumbag, but I’m actively working on it). I’m trying really hard to take deep breaths and find peace in situations that would normally stress me out to no end. I recognize I can’t control what happens. I can control my reactions. That’s it.
But, part of me does blame environmental issues for cancer. So, I made some changes to my beauty routine. I use three products by BeautyCounter now mainly because a friend let me try some of what she uses from them, I liked it, so I bought them (no, I am NOT a representative nor do I sell their products…this is purely MY opinion. In absolutely no way am I being compensated by anyone for anything in this post). I switched to Crystal deodorant because it was recommended to me by someone at one of my billion medical appointments. I found it at a local store, liked it, so I bought it.
Yes, I know none of these changes may make no difference, but at least I’m trying to do something for me, and my family, that gives me peace and I can look back on and say, well, I tried. Truthfully, that’s all I want…if this beast comes back, I want to be able to say I tried. I want my kids, my husband, my family, my friends to know I didn’t just do whatever I wanted (contrary to my tshirt that says “I Do What I Want”). I did try. But, if it’s my time, it’s my time. Just remember me. That’s all I ask.
Remember how much I love A, S, and AJ and how very important it is to me that S and AJ keep doing what they do and become members of society we can be proud of, like I am of them now. I burst with pride about my kids. Last week was the awards ceremonies at their respective schools. S recieved 8 awards…7 of them being academic, and I don’t ever want anyone to forget the happiness she radiated from the one non-academic award because it was the first time she recieved an award not related to math or art, and SHE was thrilled to be recognized not only for her academic achievements but for her non academic achievements as well. AJ recieved 4 awards…all 4 were academic, and I don’t ever want anyone to forget the look of stunned pride on his face when he was announced as a top ten reader (he read over a quarter of a million words this year) and a top music student. I want to make sure they chase their dreams. S dreams of being a veterinarian with her own vet clinic that she decorates with sketches and paintings she does of all her animal clients. AJ dream of being a chef, a baker, or a pilot. Maybe a paleontologist. Or an engineer who invents flying cars. The world is his playground. Who knows what he will do! What I want for them is that if I’m not around, I want S and AJ’s curiosity and drive honored and celebrated. I want them to push to be successful and never settle for easy.
As for A, he knows. I’ve loved him since I was seventeen years old. I know I was not his parents’ choice for him at the beginning, and I know there have been times when our relationship has had WTH moments purely of my doing. But, I love him. Fiercely. I want nothing but the best for him. He is truly the best man I’ve ever known. I pray others see it, too. This has been the hardest year he’s ever faced, and it kills me to know part of it is my fault. Still, he is steady and loving and patient and kind. He works hard. He makes mistakes and owns up to them. He loves me and our family with a love I never thought I would find. I don’t deserve him. I just dont’t, and I’m stunned and grateful he chose me, despite all my shortcomings, of which I have many.
I want my family to know I love them. I have a huuuggggeeee extended family. I have two aunts. I have cousins legion. My cousins have children. My extended family is giant. And, all of them have been here for me at one point or another over the last year, more so than usual. My youngest aunt calls or texts weekly with encouragement, come-to-Jesus talks, or just to say “how ya doing?” My oldest cousin and her daughter take my children when my first lines of defense (my mother in law and my mother) can’t. My other cousins text or check in on social media pretty much daily. My parents and I talk or text daily. I could not have gotten through the last nine months without my family, and I want them to know how much I love them. I can be the standoff, quiet one. After all, I was the youngest for many, many years. I liked to be quiet and watch. Or read. Or find a room to curl up in a chair and be alone. I know I was an enigma to them at times. But, they let me be and become who I am.
Then, there’s my in laws and A’s extended family who have done absolutely everything A or I or S or AJ have needed. Period. No questions asked. A’s aunt, who I love and adore, checks in with emails and calls. She’s steady and loves us deeply. A’s grandparents and uncle keep up through social media and phone calls. I love A’s grandparents as if they were my own. They’re kind and sweet. I lost my grandparents years ago. I’m grateful we have A’s. A’s parents…they’re awesome. I love A’s parents as much as my own. A’s mom is here anytime she can be. A’s dad is here anytime he can be. They take our kids with no questions asked. A’s mom takes care of me when I need it. No questions asked. They are hard working, fiercely devoted, and love with no strings. I may not have been their ideal wife for their oldest son, but I’m their daughter, and they treat me as so. They love me, are here for me, have done everything they can for me and A, and I love them with the same love I have for my family. I don’t want anyone to forget how much I love them…how much I love all of them. That’s the legacy I want to leave behind should this beast come back despite everything I do to make sure it doesn’t.
Once upon a time, not long after I was dignosed, I told A I want my epitaph to be “She lived and laughed and loved and left.” That’s how I want to be remembered. I lived. I laughed. I loved.
But, I left against my will.