Saturday, January 29, 2011

Feeding my unseen tumors

Sugar has been scientifically proven to feed cancer cells. Tumors grow; nasty little cancer buggies get all amped up and continue their relentless organ/blood/bone/brain/breast/lymph domination. Yet here I sit, literally pouring Nerds down my throat. So much, then, for that.

But this post isn't about my sugar fixation. This post is about sickness and health. Four years ago, on January 25, 2007, my doctor phoned me at home with the news that I was officially in complete remission. Woah. Four years is the time it takes (generally) a person to start and finish high school. Four years to start and finish their undergraduate college degree. A person will change and grow unimaginably in four years, especially when that person is under 25 and their brains and personalities and priorities are still developing. I am not even close to the same person I was four years ago.

This is also a post about time. One year and 7 months ago, I graduated from Boston University. My life had been barreling up to that point, cancer time-out included. Graduating from college is an idea; it is not a tangible thing. It is an expectation that leaves little room for life's realities. Realities like the class of 2009 graduated in the worst job market for college grads (ever, I think). My personal reality that cancer screwed with my body and my head and left my nascent life-plans in pieces all around me. So I graduated and that was it for me. I had reached an impasse, and, really, all I wanted to do was sit on a rock and watch the sunset. I had no job and no desire to jump into some crazy adult life where my cancer might as well have never happened and welcome to the workforce and the rest of your boring life... Couldn't do it.

I spent 2010 working, yes, but working at Starbucks, living at home. I dated someone for 5 months, my first "boyfriend" since I was a college freshman. I trained for and finished a marathon. I went to two different First Descents camps. I got drunk with my brother in Milwaukee a few times; I didn't go to enough concerts. I did NOT get a cold pretty much the entire year, although my health was tempered by omnipresent gut issues. I made friends with a handful of people who have changed my life for the better, shown me the depth of possibilities for existence. On some levels, near the end of the year, I almost felt that 2010 was a waste of a year: no real job, still living at home. On further reflection though, I realized that I was not ready - not ready to start a job, move on, move my life along its path.

2010 was for growing. All the running; all the sleeping; the guy; working at Starbucks; First Descents: none of it would have been possible had this not been the year it was. Had I not lived at home, I probably wouldn't have run the Chicago Marathon. Had I not had all the FD experiences, I wouldn't have come to the same terms with myself and my cancer. It is all ultimately good, but now it is time to get moving. These past three weeks, I have been battling a cold/sinus infection, my first in really almost a year. It made me realize again just how Grateful I am for my health. Four years later and for whatever reason, I am one of the lucky ones. I'm still not sure what I'm supposed to do, but I have a job interview on Monday. I have an 18-mile race to run in two months. I look great; I feel amazing. Last year was hard, but I do believe it was necessary for me to decompress after college, figure out what cancer means in my life.

So, 2011, what are you going to throw at me? What opportunities will I create for myself? Cancer has had a tremendous influence on who I am turning out to be as a person, but now it is mostly just another piece of my puzzle. Just another thing that won't keep me from consuming highly refined sugars... Today I am thankful to be alive, and this year will be a great adventure that I am more than ready for. Peace.