i am a liver has been “public” for about three days now and so far I have gotten a lot of great feedback, a respectable number of views, and a lot of encouragement, which is keeping me going. I also have a lot to say (clearly) and a place to say it, so why not use it? But i’m also realizing that it’s too late now to change my mind, it’s too late to hide, it’s too late to stop and consider, for the millionth time, whether I want cancer to define me. In traditional cancer terms, I have shaved my head.
For people who know me, this blog and this new acceptance of my disease won’t define me, but for people who don’t know me that well I will inevitably become that girl who has cancer but looks fine. At least there’s all the “brave” rhetoric surrounding that, rather than the alternative. Which is a slacker, which is what I feel like I am most of the time when i’m at school.
I’ve always been a good student and i’ve always followed the “rules” about when to get internships and when to turn assignments in and what classes to take. Here I am entering my second year of a two-year grad program without an internship, with essentially four classes under my belt (and one that I took but haven’t yet completed) and a very lax attitude about when I will do that internship and when I will finally finish that darn class and when I will get my degree. In some ways, I have to, because my treatment plan can essentially change at any time. But most of the time I just feel like a slacker.
My therapist says I am being too hard on myself. That the diagnosis last year, the surgery, the recovery, the chemo ups and downs, the countless doctor visits aren’t nothing. Even if I am feeling OK (which I haven’t been for most of the last year), my emotional health isn’t nothing. But out in the world, there’s no word for it, there’s no way to quantify it.
When people ask me what I did this summer, I say I did nothing. I actually did a lot, though. I started putting my life back together again. I started trying to embrace this new place I call home, LA. I started picking up some of my old hobbies which fell by the wayside when I was sicker. I started trying to move on from being a full-time cancer patient to being a liver–even though I still have to step back into that role more often than i’d like. What is all of that? I say it’s nothing–but it’s arguably more important than anything.