The Elephant in the Room is Cancer. Tea is the Relief Conversation Provides.

The Look What Cancer Stole From Me Petting Zoo

by Mallory CaspersonSurvivor, Hodgkin's LymphomaOctober 26, 2018View more posts from Mallory Casperson

Content contributed and originally ran on Lacuna Loft’s website at:

I am moving soon.  By soon, I mean VERY soon.  While I’ll definitely go into more details later this summer, suffice it to say that I have a lot on my plate this week.  The plan was to pack and work until I dropped, get the house ready (and dog proofed) for someone to stay in it and watch the pups, go on vacation, and then get back this week and pack until the move.

Well I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off,  I packed and worked, the house was cleaned and straightened, I went on an awesome vacation, and now I’m back home….with a full blown sinus infection AND pink eye.  (Seriously though, who gets pink eye at 29 years old?!)

I am experiencing my last chunk of time in a community where I have lived for almost 11 years, trying to say goodbye to dear people, and lovingly pack up the rest of my belongings… and instead of being able to do this on my own terms, I am on antibiotics, contagious, and not feeling very well.  This lack of control over my health and my environment makes me frustrated and frantic.  I can feel the rest of my stuff vibrating behind the closet doors, screaming to be packed into nicely rectangular boxes.

Don’t you love plans?  As a young adult cancer survivor, I can tell you that plans are just beautifully drawn outlines of what we’d like to happen in a perfect world.  But you know what?  This world isn’t perfect.  So, I’ll level with you.  My sinus infection and even my pink eye are not cancer’s fault.  So much else in my life feels like cancer’s fault that I often jumble it all together into a look-what-cancer-stole petting zoo of sorts.

There, at the petting zoo, I can arrange all of the things that cancer stole and took and bribed away and pinched and squandered, while I stare in amazement at the whole of my life and it’s possibilities, both lost and intact.

I want to enjoy my last moments in this wonderful home of mine.  I want to do it on my own terms and in my own time.  And I most assuredly want to do it without my head throbbing and my eyeballs being contagious.

That is what the cancer stole petting zoo evokes in me.  This melodramatic approach to living where every second counts and yet this strong need to understand the purpose of the second pushes forward.  While I can wish I were healthier at this exact moment and sit here feeling pitiful, the seconds of my time in Central Illinois tick by.  While my pulsing sinuses keep the boxes from being packed, I have a choice.  Even with the look-what-cancer-stole petting zoo looming from the distance, I can realize that this moment is mine to do with as I wish.  While reality gets it’s awful chance to climb on into the boat, I can assess the situation and choose to take care of myself.  I can realize that cancer was here, and has a presence at the table (as does my sinus infection and my pink eye), but that my heart and self-care also have a place set.  So, with compassion and care, I will move forward into this week of packing and add dashes of love and self-care along the way.

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