I’m so scared I’m going to die. It’s awkward AF to read, but it’s the truth.
I’m not afraid to actually physically leave this earth. You can say you know exactly where you’ll go and where you’ll be and who will be there waiting for you. But you don’t REALLY know. No one does. But everyone dies. So it doesn’t scare me SO badly… What I’m afraid of is leaving this life. I don’t want to miss the life that I had planned to live. I plan on watching my newborn son, Sam grow up. I plan on wiping his bum, and watching his face grow into a version of me and Mike, on making him snacks (like the kind all other mothers would be super jealous of because that’s how I roll), and I even plan on going to a yoga class the first day he goes to preschool because I know that’s the only place I’ll be able to distract myself from counting down the minutes to when I can go pick him up. I plan on marrying my boyfriend who proposed to me 2 years ago and I said no because I was too afraid to get married again. Too afraid to get married again!!! THAT was my fear? Are you kidding me? LMFAO for miles…! How can a perspective shift so quickly after one sentence (“You have cancer”) is spoken. I will marry him. I look at Sam and Mike now and I just can’t imagine not being here for both of them. I just created a family. Like a month ago. I can’t leave them. They need me. Mike doesn’t even know how to peel a cucumber. Even now, at barely a month old, Sam calms down as soon as he’s near my skin. But there’s a 20-26% chance that I’ll die from this cancer. The number is scary. I fucking hate numbers.
My friend Aly is an Oncology Nurse. She says the type of cancer I have (squamous cell) and the stage that it’s in (t2) has a 74% survival rate. The Asian Oncologist with coke bottle glasses that Mike and I met first before switching hospitals to Dana Farber said there was an 80% survival rate. Both Aly and my first Doctor say that those are REALLY good numbers. Aly says I’m an oncologist nurses dream. I’m having a hard time seeing it that way.
In recent years, I’ve gone through a big transformation. I’m a more laid back, happier, free living version of my Original Self. I’ve turned myself into an inspirational poster made out of magazine cut outs. So I generally see the glass half full. But let’s get this straight: Survival rate means LIVING. I have a 74-80% chance of living AFTER treatment. I see an EMPTY glass. It’s sitting on the bar where I call “home,” and it’s teasing me waiting for me to top it off from the cold taps. I can’t let it sit there like that! Why would anyone want a glass that’s only ¾ of the way full? What good is that?
I hate fear. It’s a seedy little bastard taunting me and taking me away from what actually IS and propelling me into a horror tale of what COULD be. Because what actually IS right now is me typing on my cheesy $200 laptop in the safest place I know (our bed) while Sam sleeps next to me. I don’t want to waste my “IS” time fearing what COULD happen in the future. Seems counter-productive, right? Example: I’m so afraid to die that I lose the time living by fearing death?! No way. I’m not going down like that and even if this isn’t “the end” (74%!) why would I go back to taking every single day for granted? I have this sweet choice to live… or fight to live. And not just live in the sense of being “alive,” but to live and be fully “awake.” I was talking to my chiropractor, Jerry this morning. We have the most amazing conversations. He made a good point: Jaime, get over yourself because we both know Sam and Mike will be able to live happy lives even if it means without you. Jerry. You mother fucker. He’s right. Mike can learn how to peel a cucumber and Sam will learn to calm down next to someone else. But I have this amazing perspective shift where I’m not taking peeling that goddamned cucumber for granted- I’m CHOOSING to fight and stay alive so that I can peel the vegetable, to make Mike a meal, to snuggle up next to Sam. Because that’s being awake to life. Even the mundane shit.
Tomorrow is the first day of radiation. I’ll take that 74% and I’ll fight my ass off. There are a lot of people who get ¼ chance of survival and who am I to complain about ¾? It’s just a number. I’m more of a words girl, or a girl who spends her time filling Pinterest boards with happiness quotes. I’ll leave the numbers for someone else.