Today, regardless of diagnosis, you are a survivor.
Mackenzie is a brain cancer survivor. She was diagnosed with and received surgery for stage 2 atrocytoma at just 23 years old. Although scans and monitoring are a large part of life, Mackenzie is also a sous chef, dog lover and adventure seeker. Mackenzie resides in Colorado where she finds comfort in the mountains around her.
Havoc is defined as "great confusion; disorder." That's exactly what this whole experience brought to my life. I went from having a daily schedule, a plan ... a five-year plan! Now, I had no idea what my next move would be.
Cancer was kind enough to show up and give me this new outlook and appreciation for life but also chose to wreak havoc and leave me in question. It's kinda like that weird relative that shows up to your wedding and brings the toaster you totally registered for and then has the audacity to tell you that you look a little chunky in your dress. Who does that? Go home! I love the toaster but don't be expecting a 'thank you' card.
I'm thankful for these lessons that I am learning like appreciating every day, letting go of the small things and discovering how strong I am. I don't like why
I'm learning them. I could have figured it out a different way.
I really do not like the C-word. For the sake of my emotions throughout this post, let's rename it. I apologize in advance if any of you have anyone close by this name but a name that I find very unpleasant for a girl is Helga. It reminds me of a Viking wife with a unibrow and quite possibly a mustache.
Not only is Helga that relative that ruined the wedding day but she's that friend who stays way too long when all you want to do is get in your PJs and go to bed. Helga just doesn't take the hints.
What was I talking about? Oh yeah, my world being flipped upside down. I went from working more than 50 hours a week to sitting at home having my parents drive me to the store for deodorant. Having to come to grips with my new reality was difficult. I call these moments "come to Jesus moments." When you hear me say it in person, it is a very sarcastic term. I don’t mean for it to sound sacrilegious but it often sounds that way. Like if someone is throwing a temper tantrum I'll say, "OK we all need to just have a 'come to Jesus moment.'" It's kind of like me saying, "OK, you’re being a little obnoxious. Take a breath. Step back. Evaluate your situation. Be real because you look ridiculous."
Well that's what I needed to do. I sat down with my mom in our yard and we had our "come to Jesus moment." I did have it. Helga. She WAS there. She had free will. She could come back and with a vengeance ... for not receiving a 'thank you' card, most likely. We had to face that my new normal was holding my breath every six months after a scan praying to God that she didn't show up in it.
How was I even going to do this? Will work understand when I have to have scans? I hate asking for time off.
I am no longer in control. I hate that feeling. Doesn't Helga know I am super OCD and kind of a control freak? I gotta have a plan! I have to be in control of my health. She's super inconsiderate.
Not being in control makes me a little crazy, which makes everyone under the same roof probably a little crazy too. I went from being super positive to a complete mess in a few hours. Helga was totally like, "Hey, Google my name. Just do it.” Big mistake. The doctors definitely are right when they say not to Google it. So I lay there at 3 a.m. wide awake, pretty certain my final days were numbered. Thanks, Helga.
Uncertainty can cause a lot of emotions. Sometimes those emotions come out at 3 a.m. Fortunately, my support system that I have going is available 24/7. Some don't have that. In that regard, I am a lucky one.
I have a lot of people that ask a lot of questions about my diagnosis ... which is fine and I WANT to answer any questions anyone may have! Seriously. I'll lend you any gruesome detail you want to know just as long as you don't pass out on me, mostly because I'm not supposed to lift anything heavier than 15 pounds. One question I get asked a lot, sometimes uncomfortably, "So what does this mean?" Well, as of now I am a survivor. I don't refer to myself as someone that had or will have cancer again. I woke up today alive and feeling fairly good. So I am a survivor. If you are reading this and you have been affected by cancer or any other disease, you, too, are a survivor! Could this come back aggressively and possibly make this a battle? Yes. It could. But I could also die in a car crash on my way to get an ice cream cone.
What I'm saying is uncertainty is not ideal, but if we live in fear of our lives, we will never live, or ever go get ice cream and that in itself sounds like an all-around bad situation. Anyway, all I can do is live in here and now. My post-op MRI anxiety is sitting on a shelf. Sometimes I pick it up and I get nervous. Then I stick it back on the shelf because it says: "Do not worry/open until late August." It's not worth it to worry and freak out. Everything will run its course. It's OK to have your "come to Jesus" moments. Be brutally honest. Scream. Cry. Sock your pillow right in the gut. Learn the lesson and move on. Soak up the day. Don't stay in the funk.
Oh, and Helga, I'm about to wreak havoc on you