You hold your breath.
Pass before you realize you haven’t let the oxygen pass through your lungs.
This is the way shock presents itself; in one moment you are easily walking through your life and the next you are pushed through a door, and on the other side life will never look the same again.
One you love has cancer. This is not supposed to be. Not to the young. Not to us. We have been good. Haven’t we? These thoughts surround you and you find yourself falling down hitting every branch of illogic on the way down.
I was diagnosed with Diffuse Large B-cell lymphoma, swiftly and suddenly, just four months after my thirtieth birthday. I was strong, independent, and healthy. My family and friends watched me atrophy to a skeleton over night. I lost all motor function –including the ability to move my eyes.
My state was described as, “She is the sickest person in this hospital.”
My family. My friends. My colleagues. We had all built lives that made sense; a tapestry of our terrible and wonderful experiences. All in the blink of three weeks a ripple effect traveled from the state of my health out to everyone my life had touched causing, what I have learned to understand fundamentally as a lose of control and meaning.
For me, I felt irrationally guilty. I was young. What had I eaten? What had I exposed my body to? What traumatic experience did I not handle well enough? That now every person I loved was hurting. The desire to fix permeated everything. And how could we help that? It is a reasonable reaction to use all that is within your power to improve a dire situation. But cancer has no easy solution. And trying to “fix” never helps.
Quietness soothed me. Being allowed to be quiet. That I didn’t have to say witty remarks or remember the right word for the right topic. That I could shut my eyes when my body was beyond tired. And that it would be okay.
It is not easy. It is not fair. It is not glorious.
It is hard. It is scary. It is overwhelming. It is the threshold of ambiguity.
And that is okay. You will get through it. You will persevere. I have no easy answer to make it better. Someone very recently said to me that time and space is what I need to process the magnitude a situation such as cancer. Time and Space. Focus on the simple things:
“Eat. Breathe, Sleep.” For now, just breathe.
All my love,