“Your stars will realign and things will get a little bit better”

I read this article in Cosmopolitan a few days ago (thanks Mom!): I Have Cancer…And It Sucks by 25-year old Deanna Pai, Cosmo Beauty Editor. Go ahead, it’s a quick read. I’ll wait…

Crib notes for lazy bones: Deanna is young, has a rare form of cancer, cause unknown. She is undergoing chemo, experiencing the typical culprits: hair loss, aches, neuropathy, etc. She feels isolated and perhaps cheated? In a world where she feels limited “normalcy” she sometimes resents those perceived as living “normally”. “I hate and envy them all” is a direct quote in reference to those that do not have to experience cancer treatment. I got the impression that she feels her life is stagnant right now. In short, she is pissed off and should be.

I read this article top to bottom several times. I thought a lot about the phases of emotion and development (and setbacks) that I have encountered along this journey. It is not to say that I do not have days where I am not angry. I used to be far more resentful, recalling days where I would be at the grocery store under the guise of my wig envying every woman that walked by me in a long-silky ponytail. There were days I would sit in restaurants pushing my food around the plate only to promptly purge the minimal contents of my stomach into the (less than clean) public toilet. It wasn’t fair, many parts of this still aren’t fair. But fair is subjective so I should probably rephrase as: many aspects of living with illness just effing SUCK.

That being said I have been at this for a while now, 967 days to be exact, but who’s counting right? Perhaps in comparison to the tumultuous relationship I had with my last treatment plan between 2014 and 2015 I just feel more at peace with my current circumstances. Now don’t get me wrong, I struggle daily with many different aspects of the implications of this disease, but I just don’t feel as defeated or pissed off as I once was (at least not today). I still feel Deanna’s frustration on so many levels. I cheer her on for her candor and just keeping it real.

In contrast,

I read a piece that gelled with me in a different way from Year of the Hair (25-year old Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer crusher). She wrote a post called Chin Up. If you are experiencing any sort of stressor in your life, her insights may apply to you. If you are sick, grieving, in transition, etc. her thoughts are incredibly relevant and mature.

“I just wanted to say, to anyone suffering out there in any capacity that it really is going to be ok. And not in a you’re going to be ok because it could be worse/you could have cancer kind of way. My thinking has shifted a lot lately and I firmly believe that suffering is relative. What I endure might kill another. What someone else out there is enduring might be too much for me to even comprehend. But know that we are not alone in the suffering. It is an intrinsic trait of humans to suffer and know pain and difficulty. One way or another things will shift, however small or big, and your stars will realign and things will get a little bit better. I’ve learned over and over again that it might not be the ok you always thought was ok. But we are creatures of adaption and you will learn first to survive, and then to live.” -Robyn, Year of the Hair

Sometimes, like Deanna from Cosmo, I question what it means to be “truly living”. I feel that the disease has rendered me more stagnant than I would like to be at this point in my life. But honestly, without cancer, who is to say that I would have pushed myself to do many of the things that I have done over the past two plus years. I’ve traveled cross country, had more adventurous hairstyles than I can count, raised thousands of dollars for causes dear to my heart, become a hospital volunteer, gained the confidence to bare my soul to the world through writing, bared my soul (again) in front of students and colleagues as a Relay for Life speaker, developed professionally and found value in my work, become a better advocate for myself and my care, reconnected with old friends, discovered new friends and connected on a deeply personal level, watched loved ones marry and start their families, and entered a romantic relationship filled with endless unconditional love. If that is not living, I don’t know what is. So what if we occasionally eat too much ice cream and binge watch Netflix gems. That’s all part of finding joy in the little pleasures!

So even though this disease can be aggravating (example below):

I am still living…

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Living…maybe a little out of breath with A LOT of breaks…but I got there.

DCIM100GOPRO

Living through love.

I will get off of my little soapbox now and end with more wise words from Robyn:

“And if that fails to make you feel warm and fuzzy, always remember that if you are reading this, you have survived 100% of the darkest days you thought you wouldn’t. You’ve got this. You go Glen Coco.” 

To date I have survived 967 days that have challenged my spirit and faith. On the 967th day I am not even close to remission but progressing nonetheless.

Today I found out that my tumor marker, the CA-125, has decreased yet again from 812 to 625!!!! 

With Robyn’s fabulous Mean Girls reference, for celebratory purposes, I think it is worth repeating…

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Keep on livin’ the best you can everyone. Whether you’re backpacking Europe or binge watching Parks and Rec. You’ll be okay (even on the days when it feels like nothing is okay) 🙂

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13 thoughts on ““Your stars will realign and things will get a little bit better”

  1. Great post, Jess! So happy the CA125 is down once again. As always, you inspire me! I love that picture of you and Cory at the falls!

      • Love this post Jess- not to say that all the others have not all been publish worthy in their own right. I think this speaks to everyone and summarizes it all- it’s about the human condition and the gift of life that does not discriminate -it’s about hope, faith, and love and as your mom (whom I love) would say, “the stars”. I still feel that Laughter and Gratitude are sometimes underrated. ( even by me). You say it all and continue to remind us that on some level at any moment it will be ok ! -Love you Jess-💗

  2. Pingback: Two years cancer free! | My Fight with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

  3. Jesse ~ you are truly my hero. Not only are you okay, you are amazing, talented, wonderful, loved and appreciated in all that you are. I agree on so many levels and to us otherwise “normal – no I’m not” folks I love you for caring and sharing and helping us keep the faith in all that we do in our life. Namaste beautiful woman. xo

  4. How awesome it is that the numbers have gone down AGAIN!! I am so happy for you Jess. And, Thank You for sharing your thoughts and reminding us all that really all any of us has is the PRESENT, that to LIVE and enjoy our moments is what counts despite what our trials are in life. You do that so well….You Go Girl.

  5. Happy to hear that your numbers are getting better. We love the picture of you and Cory. He is a special person and I know you realize you are fortunate to have him in your life. Looking forward to seeing you soon at your folks house at CC. Take care…

  6. What an incredible, inspirational post, Jess. And “yahoo” on your numbers continuing to go down! Way to crush it!!

  7. Jolly jolly good! I have been away for 6 weeks. My mother died and I was so glad I was with her at the end. After that my cousins husband was killed on a diving trip with his son in the Maldives (off srilanka) so my poor cousin had to rush from one funeral to a much worse one. I was so glad to be in Europe and to be with my family because we were all in such shock. SO glad to hear GOOD news from someone. All my love Jen

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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