Last night, in honor of Halloween, I went out as a normal 26-year-old. I wore a costume–of course–I wore makeup (rare for me), I didn’t worry about the time, I mingled. I’m didn’t drink, but i’m pretty used to that now. And I didn’t really need to think about cancer. Because I didn’t really have any serious conversations with anyone. Because all of my thoughts and updates hang out here on my blog, so they’re not in my head, and because I was celebrating Halloween. And on Halloween you go out and you be someone else for a few hours. So I was a normal 26-year-old (dressed up as C-3PO).
Sometime in the middle of all this being a normal 26-year-old, I was struck by how amazing it is–and how fortunate I am–that it’s even possible for me to masquerade as someone who doesn’t have cancer. While i’m on chemo, no less. Both of them. With a sore butt from the other shot of chemo I get once per month.
Most of the time it frustrates me that I don’t have any of the outward signs of having cancer–except my giant scar–so it becomes a big thing whether or not to tell people and I don’t get the added benefit of strangers being nice to me, blah blah blah. I’ve written about that before. But sometimes it’s nice to just forget about it. I can’t go through my whole life forgetting about it–that wouldn’t be healthy–but I can forget about it for a night or a day here and there. My tumors don’t know when i’ve forgotten about them. They’re not going to grow faster or spread if I don’t pay attention to them for a few hours. Sometimes I think cancer is like meeting boys–like, that saying, “you will meet someone when you least expect it”–except, “your cancer will start growing again when you least expect it.” But it doesn’t matter whether i’m thinking about it or not (with cancer as well as boys, maybe?). All the tumors want is more blood and sugar and less chemo. Grow grow grow grow. And all boys want is… well, i’m not going to extend the analogy that far.
The point of the oral chemo without too many awful side effects, the point of the surgery, the point of me feeling better again, the point of dealing with the emotional side of cancer, is so I can live my life. Not so I can sit at home and think about what might happen in the future now that I have cancer. Not that I do just that a lot. I am a liver, right? The point is to live.
And for many normal (and single) 26-year-olds, living is going out at least occasionally. And when I do go out now, because I do so so rarely, it feels a little special. Even when it’s not Halloween, it’s my few hours to be “normal.”
And then the clock strikes midnight (or last night, a few hours later) and I find myself ready for bed, all my gold C-3PO makeup washed off, with a PPI, an anti-nausea pill, and three chemo pills in one hand, a glass of water in the other. Like I said: I can’t forget forever.