I just found out a woman I don’t know died. She’s a friend of someone I kind of know. She’d been a survivor of breast cancer since 2005. I had seen her in a video and I remember that I had thought how much I wanted to meet her. She was so happy and vibrant and positive. Hearing the news of her death made me cry uncontrollably. I am so sad for her family and friends. She seemed like such a great person. She looks so happy in photos I’ve seen of her. I feel so sad. I feel so scared. I don’t want to die.
I know people without cancer do not fully understand cancer. I know that before my mom died cancer was just a word. It was a disease my aunts had gotten or my grandmother had had, but it was far away and wasn’t touching me directly. It was a word that other people dealt with. Then my mom got it and it killed her. That really flew me upside-down. It was now a word with a new meaning. The way people say “it spread like a cancer” suddenly had a very personal connection to my own life and the loss of my mom.
Now I have an even closer connection to that word. Having lost someone so close to me to cancer was very hard and I felt I had been inducted into a club that I never asked to join. With having cancer I see it from the inside. I am in a new club now; the club of cancer survivors. I think I try sometimes to pretend my life will be back to normal after chemo and after surgery, but I know inside me that I will never be the same person I was before this. I am scared. I am fucking terrified. It can spread like wild fire and sometimes there is nothing we can do. No matter how happy or positive we are sometimes it just takes us. I don’t want to be taken. I am too young. This woman who died was too young too.
I know there is no rhyme or reason to things in life. I’ve known since childhood it’s all randomness. I do not believe in religions or gods of any kind; I believe in myself and in the power of positive thinking. I thought so negatively for so many years that sometimes it is hard to avoid. Today I met a woman on chemo as well. She said: “you have to laugh, otherwise you will cry.” No fucking kidding. It gets harder to avoid crying. But I cry alone. I hate people seeing me cry. I laugh alone a lot too. I laugh with other people. I just keep trying to hold onto what is good about life but, man, I’m telling you: it is hard to remember the good when you feel so motherfucking bad!
I see smokers and I want to hit them. I see them and want to take their cigarettes out of their mouths and yell at them: “do you see what I’m going through? Do you have any fucking idea how shit-fuck-awful chemo is?” And lung cancer is bad. Worse probably than this. But I get so frustrated that they smoke. And that they walk by me blowing that shit in my face or standing outside my school cheering me on while they puff away. I can’t trace exactly what caused my cancer--- it’s the randomness of life. I wish I had someone to blame so I knew who to punch in the fucking face, but I don’t. Smokers with cancer can blame themselves. I had two aunts that both died of lung cancer. One kept smoking the whole time she was dying—in front of me and other family too. The other never smoked. That shit is bad and it makes me angry. I hate feeling angry but it does. I don’t want your lung cancer! That’s yours. Go smoke in your car with the windows rolled up! Just get that shit out of my face.
I’m starting to crack a little each day. I starting tearing up on the subway or crying in front of people who don’t know how to respond to my crying. I want my mom so badly sometimes I can feel it inside me like this empty black hole. I need her because she knows me and she knows cancer. I need her because she was the only mom I ever had and I need her because she died from cancer and I need to know that I won’t. Not now. Not soon. Not this young. She told me when she first found the tumor in her armpit that she just wanted another five years. I said to her: “Mom, five years? You should have another ten or twenty! Ask for more!” She was 72 when she died. I’m 34. Asking for twenty more years kills me at 54. That’s way too young still. I thought I’d live to 103! I’d take 72 at this point. Maybe 80? There’s just too many things and too many places I haven’t explored; too many books I still need to read; people I still need to meet; love I have not had; and kids I’ve always wanted. I dream of seeing my nephew graduate from college, my niece get married, my other niece grow up and save the world, and my nephew hit a home run in a professional baseball game… I dream of what they will be and I don’t want to miss that shit. I want to travel to Africa with my nephew and to be at the weddings of all four of them. I want to hug them and tell them stories and give them advice if they need it. I have no kids and have no idea if I ever will so those four kids are the world to me. My mom lost the chance to see them grow up but I refuse to. I really fucking refuse to!
I hear people say I’m a trooper and I inspire them. I hope they mean it. It’s nice to hear but these days having people around with me at chemo and to give me hugs or help me out would be better. I have good days when I feel okay and can breathe and I have bad days when I can hardly walk up my stairs. Things hurt at random and I don’t know why. My period stopped coming last month and I get hot flashes and sweat all night from the back of my head. Lucky I’m bald because this would really mess up my hair. I can’t remember why I love acting. It’s what I was fighting to live for and now I can’t remember. And my favourite teacher has abandoned me and I wish I could ask him to tell me why I need to keep going. I wish he could tell me why I need to keep acting. He called me a professional; said I had “profound talent” but now he won’t even say hi to me. No matter how busy I know he is it’s hard not to be hurt by that. I miss my school and taking classes. I miss the kids I go to school with and the teachers. I miss knowing why I act and that there is a reason. Maybe it’s chemo-brain that’s made me forget. Maybe it’s chemo causing depression and I feel too alone to work it out on my own. I really fucking miss my friends in San Diego. It’s lonely here now and I don’t want to feel lonely. I want to feel happy and loved. I want to be smiling all the time and dancing. I want to get back my intelligence, be reminded I have purpose and work my ass off not only to survive cancer but to survive life and really truly live doing what I love. I’m not reading to die now. I’m not ready to die in five years. It’s about fucking time I got some good shit in my shit-fuck excuse for a life and I demand it NOW! If that means I change into some better person and I advocate for breast cancer and I work my ass off even doing shit I hate, then I will. I hate chemo and I’m fucking doing that! After cancer I’m not sure what else can really scare me. So why do I feel so scared about my future?... maybe because I’m not sure if I have one. Or at least a great one. And if all I get is five more years, or one more, I want what’s left to be fucking amazing!