Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Moving on After Cancer

It's been over three years since I was diagnosed with stage 3 melanoma.  I'd like to think that since a lot of time has removed me from the event that things have settled back into some semblance of normalcy.  Of course, as anyone knows who's been through a traumatic experience, that isn't even remotely true.  

I've tried very hard to distance myself from cancer.  But it's never far from my thoughts.  I've carved out a career for myself while writing about the issues surrounding young adult survivors and cancer in general.  Gritty, poignant stuff.  And, all along, I've been trying to separate myself from the very issues I've been writing about.  It hasn't worked as well as I'd like.  I still get sniffly when I read a story about someone who died of cancer.  Stuart Scott's recent passing has me a bit off-kilter.  He was a guy in control of his disease -- as much as such a thing is possible -- and yet in reality, he had the same chances of surviving a terminal illness that any of us do.  It isn't a fair thing, and it doesn't play by the rules.  

I still feel slightly awkward when cancer is mentioned in a movie or on TV.  Sometimes I pretend to play along, acting like my first-hand knowledge gives me some kind of deeper understanding or empathy toward characters or people.  But in reality, hearing about it just sucks.  The memories are still there somewhere, taking up space in the back of my mind.  From time to time, they hurt.  Maybe even more so now, because the details have mostly faded and all that remains are hints of fear and resentment.  

I don't know where life goes from here, but I do know that there are some pretty awesome reasons to stick around to find out.  Things are going my way for the most part and I have everything that I need, even though I don't appreciate this as much because I can't shake the constant feeling that it might all disappear in a flash.  But the journey continues, leaving me with a pretty clear question: How do you deal with moving forward after trauma, and how do you fit back into regular life?  

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Five Rounds

Recently, I started in on another workout routine.  I say "another," because I've been starting them for a while now.  It hasn't been easy to keep in shape since my diagnosis and subsequent treatment.  And this seems to apply to a significant portion of young adult survivors.

So today I did five rounds of shadowboxing, plus a mix of cardio and calisthenics that I used to get in shape before my Thai Boxing Association Assistant Instructor test when I was 16.  Yesterday I did three rounds.  I'm exhausted, but I'm working my way up.  It's important to do something that you're comfortable with.  It's the best way to shed the pounds.  In my case, I'm totally lucky.  And I recognize that.  Not everyone has spent 22 years in the martial arts.  I started studying a very physical art (well, five of them) when I was seven years old.  Some people have always led a sedentary lifestyle, and so exercise is much harder for them.  I get it now.  I really do.  It's so much easier, post-cancer, to be sedentary.  I don't like to move around much.  It's odd, but I notice it.

For one thing, it's a positive.  I've started to fall into my work more.  And that's taken me to places I never would have gotten had I never been diagnosed.  I know myself pretty well, and I honestly believe that to be true.  The downside of working too much is obvious -- actually there are multiple downsides, but we'll start slow.  The worst being that, as a writer, I sit around a lot.  Even though I've been meaning to purchase a stand-up desk.... well I mean to do a lot of things and I haven't.  So there's that.  The chub grows.  And not the good kind.

I'll continue to make an effort to get back what I've lost.  Not just the physicality, but the mindset and lifestyle as well.  It's hard to recognize the worth of getting back into shape after facing the trauma of a life-threatening disease.  Doing so places only the most immediate and worthwhile needs in front of you to the exclusion of all the rest.  Regardless, I'll put on my best workout garb, play some tradition Thai Boxing tunes, and jam out with my fists out until I get back into fighting shape.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Upcoming Writing Guide

I realize it's been a while since I've posted.  I sincerely apologize for my absence, prostrating myself before the altar of public forgiveness (If you're interested in the literary blooper reel, I almost typed "prostating" just then.  In fact, I actually did type "prostating," but caught it just in time).  As with all things, there are crests and troughs -- just as moon waxes and wanes, and the weevil scuttles across that leftover bag of rice in the cupboard, so too, does creativity grant only the briefest of audiences.  For me, that means I have so much going on that I'm generally too overwhelmed to think at all times.  Yeah, it's fun being a writer.  

Which brings me to the subject of today's post -- I wrote a new ebook.  It's called, How to Write Like a Badass.  Check out the cover here:  

Image copyright TheCatchMode

The book serves as a guidebook for anyone who's thinking about taking the leap into professional writing.  It also gives pointers to others who may have established writing careers already, but haven't yet realized the level of financial comfort they'd been hoping for.  Hell, you should read it even if you think you know what you're doing.  I think I know what I'm doing after several years of peddling my literary ramblings, but now and again I discover whole realms I knew nothing about.  

Don't worry if you've never written anything before.  Now is the time.  Don't worry if you've only been published on the web, or in High School.  If you want to write and make money doing it, then this book will show you how.  

Right now I'm in the final round of edits, and the book will be available for purchase later in the week.  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Another Year on The Blue Marble

It's crazy to think that not too long ago my future on this planet was in serious jeopardy.  I guess that's not entirely accurate.  I'd still be on the planet, just not hanging out and rocking my jam as usual.  And if I was, then you should run.  Fast.  Because I'd be a zombie and your brains would for sure become my breakfast.  For sure.

For those of you following along at home, I recently had one of those birthday thangz all the cool kids are getting into.  They seem to be almost unavoidable these days.  No matter where you look, people are always having birthdays.  Some people have so many birthdays that you have to wonder just who they think they are.  I once wrote that you should always be glad to have another birthday.  That you shouldn't fret growing older, because every new day was a gift.  I don't know from where, or from whom, but the gist was that you should appreciate the time that you have.  Since I'm a regular human person like anyone else, my thought patterns and opinions wax and wane like a desert moon orbiting a lonely rock at the outskirts of the galaxy.  I don't know exactly what I believe about birthdays anymore, or even about existence, or about appreciating the gift of tomorrow.  Is it really a gift?  Some people's tomorrows will be unquestioningly awful.
There are those in this life whose tomorrows are always filled with very sad things.  Suffering, disappointment, hardships.  Some people will never have a chance at a normal life -- they'll never have a shot at the best things this place has to offer.  And, according to the credo to which you choose to adhere, it's entirely possible that they won't get another chance to try again.  I'm not elevating my experiences to rival those of what could only be described as an earthly prison -- not at all.  I have a great time, as a general rule.  Because, if I'm not enjoying myself, then I strongly feel that I should move over and make space for someone else who will.  I think I'm just suddenly unsure about how to take my ongoing survival.

I used to have plenty of questions related to surviving cancer.  "Why me?" is a trusty standard.  I used to have zillions of feelings and micro feelings relating as well.  And then, after a while, it all kind of just stopped.  And I was allowed to be normal again.  Only I didn't know how.  And to some extent, the normal I've chosen is someone I don't recognize when I really stop to look.  I suppose the bottom line is; I don't know who I am anymore, or who I want to be.  I don't know exactly what almost dying and suddenly having more birthdays has done to me.  And I think I'd better figure it out if I want to justify the potential gift of being granted even more birthdays.  I owe it to myself, and the people who are taking for granted that I'm always going to be here.

Photo credits: Top -- Cover art for Metastatic Memories© 2014 Kevin Lankes and TheCatchMode