Thursday, June 28, 2007

Shoes? (also, this is really long. no promises re: interesting factor)

Shoes! New shoes, to be exact. They are green and white and suede, and they make me a bit more happy. Plus, they were satisfyingly cheap. What more could one want on a cold and grey Thursday?

So, enough twaddle. (look it up. great word.) Yesterday I went to my young-adult group downtown. An issue was raised that gave me cause to think. I wanted to write about it, but I needed some time to try and articulate what I understood emotionally. Basically, for the three of us present, we determined that having cancer led to important pretty important changes for our lives and futures. I have decided not to double major with English; I want to put my energies towards photojournalism. Another person wants to change his major from poli-sci to philosophy. And the other person decided to finally leave her job for a better one. None of us would have reached these decisions if we hadn't had to reevaluate our lives with the eyes of cancer survivors. Our group leader brought up the question of why do most people become so complacent in life, and what is different about having cancer that it causes people to change (sometimes) how they view life? Here's the conclusion I have come to: (Please note, my conclusion is based on being 20 and not having to take care of a family. I'm sure a forty-year old woman with three children might have a different view.) Having cancer causes a major shift in priorities. Your priority becomes yourself and your health. It isn't that you become self-centered. It's more that you become more attuned to what you need or want. Your health depends on your ability to listen to what your body and instincts are telling you. For me, and probably for many people, I think I used to have an attitude similar to, "Okay, this current life isn't pleasant, but I can deal with it. Something will eventually change." I never honestly tried to figure out how to make my life better. I think I just figured it would automatically become so. But now, I have been forced to evaluate my life and myself, and I realized that I need to stand up for myself, to myself. I wouldn't say I'm a totally new person, but I am certainly stronger. And the strength I've found to help me get through this has transfered to all facets of my life, including the strength to accept what I want to do. It sounds silly, but most of us can't or won't admit to ourselves what we really want, and even fewer go out and try for it. Deciding not to double major in English sounds like a minor thing, but the amount of time and energy I'll be able to focus on photography is huge. I'm going to minor in English; I'll never ever let my love of it go. But I really want to pursue photojournalism. And now I freely accept that. Anyway, before you go blind reading from a screen, let me finish this all up. I know it's difficult to take someone else's experiences and apply them towards your own life. I know that many people can't quite visualize having cancer. But I also know that I am trying really hard to illustrate to whomever might be reading this that the conclusions I reach about life are applicable to probably anyone. You don't need a terminal illness to hit you over the head before you say, oh wait, maybe that's not how my life should be. Haha, think of it like I got sick so you don't have to. Maybe. Or maybe I am actually just rambling somewhat incoherently. Either way, I'm not too worried about it. But good luck nonetheless. Pax.

Monday, June 25, 2007

I suppose it's about that time again.

It's time I get to fill you in on my cancer-fun day! And rest assured, today was a cancer-fun day. Today, I had to go to clinic to meet with my doctor. Just a routine check up, nothing terribly exciting. They drew blood; they analyzed the blood; they sent me to wait for my doctor; I waited for my doctor; I waited some more for my doctor; I saw my doctor but had to wait while she clarified something with another doctor; my doctor returned, checked my lungs, checked my heartbeat, told me I looked pale; we decided on a blood transfusion; and I left clinic not knowing when I would be starting the next round of chemo. 90 minute trip stretched to 3 1/2 hours. Woo, inefficiency! I have since learned that my next session of chemo will start one week from today. This means that while I will not be in the hospital for the Fourth of July, I will be smack in the middle of one rough week of chemo. I can't get over how different this year has been so far, and it's not even halfway through yet. But I plan on enjoying this next week of health, maybe even sneaking in some early fireworks at Navy Pier. We'll see how things shape up. At least I'll have some more blood.

And now for another look into the life of me, with cancer. One of the most common questions people ask me is, "How do you keep yourself busy?" I have an array of answers, ranging from a blank stare and halfhearted laugh to an in-depth description of my musical and photographic adventures. But I realized yesterday what it is that I actually do. I read. I read a lot. Over the past almost seven months, I have read 14 books. This doesn't sound like very many, but most of them have been pretty heavy novels. And these are the books I can remember. I have probably read closer to 18 or so, but I can't remember the others. Those would have been the books I randomly picked up while rifling through the stacks at my library. This also doesn't include Vanity Fair or Anna Karenina, neither of which I could bring myself to finish. Or the growing list of poetry. So that's what I do. I only decided to start keeping track of my literary record about three days ago. Hopefully the list will continue to grow, and hopefully I will continue to pick engaging and thought-provoking novels, memoirs, and non-fiction. Suggestions always welcome. Anywhoo, that's about it from me for now. Peace.