Tuesday, February 4, 2014

a place I never wanted to be

This is the story I never wanted to have to write.

This is the story I know will never have a happy ending.

Wait, no. This is the story of how I don’t get to have a happy ending.

Two weeks ago, I found out I have cancer in my lungs and my liver. My disease is no longer curable.

Let me be excruciatingly clear. This means, no matter what measures I do or do not take, I am eventually going to die of cancer.

I have lived with this possibility for a long time. The survival rates for relapsed Wilms are not exactly confidence-inspiring, but when I made it a year and a half past transplant I thought I may have landed on the right side of the odds. But almost eight months ago, I learned my cancer had relapsed again. I had surgery and radiation, and I dared to hope for the near-miracle of getting rid of the disease one more time.

The scientific part of me, though, couldn’t help but run the probabilities and know that gamble was most likely destined to fail. It’s why I kept radio silence about my latest relapse, only telling the people I see and speak to most often. I couldn’t bear putting on a hopeful face online, letting everyone think this was just a hiccup, when I knew so much worse news could--and likely would--be coming. 

There’s only so many times I can stand watching my news cause pain to the people I love. Please know, if I didn't tell you personally, it was only because the telling hurt too much to keep doing.

There is so much I want to say and so much I don’t want to say. I've felt so numb for so many months now, and with this latest shock it's hard for anything to feel real anymore.

In those moments when I do feel everything with clarity, I am overwhelmed with fear and anger and sadness and a deep, deep feeling of loss. I didn't know until now that you can grieve for your own life, but that is what I feel: grief for the life I had and all the people I love who I will lose, and grief for the life I might have had and all those dreams that will remain, forever, dreams deferred. It is an impossible feeling, this grief, and it is a feeling that makes me long for the numbness.

This is a place I never wanted to be, and it's hard to know what to say, how to tell this story.

I know what I have to say, and what I desperately need you to listen to: acceptance is not giving up.

I accept that the doctors and the MRIs are not mistaken; that, all miraculous occurrences aside, this disease will eventually kill me. Denying this reality only hurts me and the people around me. But just because I’m willing to accept this doesn’t mean I’ve lost hope. I still hope for a miracle. I still hope that I will be able to do so many more of the things I’ve always wanted to do.

I still find courage and hope in the love and support of the people around me. They make the days I have worth having, even as I ache at having to leave them.

My faith is a battered, fragile thing right now, but I still believe in things greater than myself. I still hope for better things to come. 

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