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?  

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