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

To Past Me

by Brooke BarnesSurvivor, Chronic Myeloid LeukemiaMarch 31, 2023View more posts from Brooke Barnes

To Past Me:

On May 5th, 2016 your entire life is going to change. You’re going to get the news that you have cancer, go directly to the hospital, and two weeks later you’ll get released with some daily medication that will save your life. When you’re discharged, you’re going to want things to go back to normal but you will never be the person you were before. I know you want to go back to work right away and pretend that nothing has changed because you have a “good” cancer but don’t. Take the time you need to rest and recover. You will never be the same. Some of your relationships will never be the same. It’s OK to grieve the life you had before. Even though your prognosis is good, your young body still betrayed you, and that’s not fair. You’re not supposed to know how to navigate the hospital bills and follow-up care and how to manage other people’s emotions about you having cancer, especially at 26.

You’re going to be angry for a while but then you’re going to find that there’s a whole community of survivors just like you. They might not have the same diagnosis but they’ve all felt what you feel. They’ve walked the road that you just started. When you ask them things like, “How long does it take to start feeling like yourself again?” and they answer “At least two years,” don’t be discouraged. Take their word for it and look forward to that day when you won’t think about cancer other than when you take your daily dose of medicine. Someday you’ll start feeling like yourself again, and although it’s not the path you would have chosen, the detour gave you new friends that you would have never met otherwise. These friends understand this part of your life because they’ve lived it too. When you talk about not being able to picture your life past the next month, they know exactly what you mean. Hold on to these connections because when the world shuts down in 2020, they will allow you to still feel connected.

Past Me, your life won’t look anything like you thought it would, but keep moving forward. It gets better. Your future self is waiting.

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