I haven’t written this blog in awhile. Honestly, I’ve thought a lot about writing, but I haven’t felt like there was anything to write about. Then, eureka: I want to write about why nothing seems worth writing about.
To be fair, I’m also facing other writing struggles in my life, as my dissertation data collection has finally ended, and my dissertation writing phase looms. Also, I’m applying for academic jobs, which means LOTS of writing cover letters, teaching philosophies, etc. It’s a lot.
But, back to why nothing about my cancer life feels poignant or important enough to share: my cancer life is boring now. That isn’t to say it’s uneventful- things definitely happen. For instance, I finished chemo in June. Then, I went to London for work. Then, I came home. Then, I went to the cabin. Then, I came home. Then, I had radiation. Then, in August, I finished radiation. Then, I started Tamoxifen. Then, I got an infection and took antibiotics to clear it up. Then, everyone started school again. Then, I started a new job. Then, I started working out again.
See? Eventful, but unremarkable. I’ve been wondering why events don’t stand out as important, and I think it’s this: I have accepted that I am going to die someday from cancer, and that cancer treatment will just be part of my life. So, from here on out, I am just trying to “live in the now”, as they say. It is unpleasant to think about the past (which includes cancer treatment), and the future (which likely includes more cancer treatment), and so I am weirdly incentivized to think about the present.
Trust me: I pursue zen, and never achieve it, so this calm feels very suspicious. The other day I found myself asking my therapist if perhaps I am numbing my feelings out or something, as I don’t feel terrible, like I did after my first cancer treatment. She said she didn’t think so, since I was asking her about my feelings in that exact moment, and so it’s probably safe to say I’m feeling them.
So, nothing feels worth writing about because cancer is now normal for me. This is somewhat unfortunate, but not that bad, all things considered. I get to do yoga, physical therapy, and adaptive fitness each week. I get to do Weight Watchers to lose that steroid weight. I get to write a dissertation. I get to be a mother to my children, which includes pick ups and drop offs, making dinner, going to swimming lessons. You know, electrifying stuff! But, for me, it kind of is. People still stare at my hair or my port, but I don’t really care. I still get tired, but it doesn’t really bother me. I’m forgetful and mentally fuzzy, still, but it’s getting better every day. I think I’m content! This is new. What is wrong with me? (Nothing.)
I am extremely fortunate in many respects, but especially this one: I get the benefit of
grappling with my own mortality while my body is well. As a result, I feel like I have this knowledge that separates me from many other humans, who perhaps are not in the same phase of life. I sometimes feel lonely, but I’ve stopped expecting other people to understand what has happened to me, because they just can’t, unless they’re experiencing it, and even then, our experiences of death and illness are so personal that they’re hard to share. They say the secret to happiness is to have low expectations, and that is exactly what I have of others with respect to their ability to understand my cancer life. And, so I’m happy.
Anyhow, I think I’ll refer to this as my Seinfeld blog, as it appears to be about nothing. But, when you’ve been living a life full of a whole bunch of unpleasant somethings, as I have, “nothing” is a sincere improvement. I will totally take it.