It starts with the word ‘cancer.’
From the second the word touched my lips, the life I’d lived before was gone and already spiraling out of control (and out of context). There’s a lot you learn about life from watching someone you love die from cancer. And those lessons aren’t always terrifying.
From the moment my mother passed, my old life was eliminated. She wasn’t around anymore for me to lean on. My guidance had to blossom from my own self-awareness. Life sucked. It was broken and I, as a distraught 26-year old woman had to do whatever I could to clean up the jagged pieces of the aftermath.
For a while it seemed like everything was slapping me in the face simultaneously: dead mother, distraught father, $48,000 debt from hospital bills, a dead-end job and a writer’s block so stifling that the only life I knew seemed out of reach, both metaphorically and through my keyboard.
I can preach about how often I’ve told myself that it wasn’t supposed to happen like this. I felt this intensive anger for months and I sheltered myself away from anything that I thought could trigger those outbursts. I avoided holidays and people, family and close friends whose words I grew increasingly sick of. I carved a hidden nook for myself in a buzzing society hoping no one would notice how broken my mind really was. With a broken mind, comes a broken ability to strive for change. Sometimes you get lost in playing the victim.
Life is going to happen and when it does, you can bet the last dime in your bank account that’ll rock you. These moments aren’t always bad; sometimes they’re necessary to propel you further. Think about bitter moments. Think about times when you’ve broken down, felt disturbed, felt unloved. Whatever became of them? Did they fester and swallow you? Or did they motivate the fuck out of you to get up and finally make a change?
There comes a period in life when you have to learn to take control of being okay with not having any. If I could go back and control the situation, I’d save my mom’s life in a nanosecond. I’d convince her to pursue chemo treatments when her doctor caught the cancer at Stage 1 – instead of understanding why she was fearful, allowing it to grow at a rapid pace. If I could have control of the situation, I would have forced my mom to go see another oncologist who didn’t brush her off with vibrant commentary. If I could’ve controlled any part of the situation of my mother’s passing, I would have skipped past the sadness and grabbed the first chance at acceptance.
When you’re in the thick of whatever it may be, it can feel overwhelming. It can feel like you’re making zero progression. It can make you doubt yourself. It’s these moments though where your strength and resilience is not only discovered, but measured. Acceptance comes solely by choosing to wake up and get your day going in the morning. It’s forcing yourself to a healthy breakfast when you’re not hungry. It’s driving to a job you’re unhappy with because you know, somewhere on the other side of your current reality, is the future you’re working toward. Acceptance comes from the moments you accept your sadness and push forward anyway. It’s when you look that fear, that uncertainty, that pain right in the eye and force it to back down because it’s a fight for another day, not today. Never, ever today.