I often feel like I live my life tethered to cancer. Some days the leash is longer with a little more give. I can distance myself. I can breathe. I can imagine that my life is normal. Then there are the days that the leash feels more like a noose, choking the life out of me. Stealing my air.
Today I felt like I was attached to a bungee cord. Moments of free falling and elation. And also moments where your heart jumps up into your throat as you brace yourself in terror.
This afternoon I went onto YouTube with the intention of searching for something wedding related. Something on my home feed caught my attention. It was Nalie Agustin, a 28 year old breast cancer survivor and vlogger that I watched often early on in my diagnosis. She was looking out at me from her video above the title “The Relapse”. Fuck. Nalie is an inspiring, positive young woman who helped me feel like I could beat my cancer at a time when things felt bleak. Do I really want to open this video? Do I really want to know what this says? I opened the video. Her cancer came back… in her lungs. Stage IV. Incurable.
I felt the bungee cord catch. I felt my stomach and my heart tighten. I stopped the video. I just couldn’t hear anymore of it.
Literally a moment later, my phone rang. It was Brian. “I have something to tell you…” oh God, what now? “We got the house!”
My lungs were suddenly filled with pure, soft, revitalizing air. I was floating.
After years of searching for a house, of being heartbroken and disappointed by numerous offers falling through, this one finally sticks. This one, in the midst of cancer treatments and wedding planning. This one.
I suppose, in my case, things happen all at once, or not at all.
We still have the inspection and negotiations to get through, but I feel it in my soul that this one is meant to be.
All of these things swirled through my head as I arrived at the cancer center for my 9th radiation treatment. Nalie returned to my thoughts and stayed there while I changed into my robe and waited. While I layed on the table for treatment.
She’s just like me. She’s young. She’s vibrant. She has goals. She wants to buy a house and get married and have a family. My heart breaks for her. I feel like I am tethered to her. Like her pain and fear travel through that cord, paralyzing me for a moment. What if that happens to me?
Sometimes this happens. Sometimes I begin to fall faster than I can handle and I need to pull the rip cord.
I have to bring myself back down to earth slowly. I need to remind myself that I’m ok.
I’m not her.
I had earlier stage cancer. I had cancer that wasn’t traveling. I’m doing probably more than is necessary to stay alive. My cancer is not her cancer.
When I was ready, I went back and watched the rest of her video. She’s in shock. She’s angry and sad, but she’s going to fight. Of course she’s going to fight. “Just because my cancer came back doesn’t mean yours will,”she says. It’s amazing that she can still take care of her followers even in her darkest of times.
Not that she’ll see it, but this feels appropriate: