Tag Archives: cancer

New Years – A Reflection on Life

New Year, new start, right? At the start of every year, all of us look forward to another year where nothing is impossible. Lose that twenty pounds, get that promotion, write that book you’ve been putting off for years, or go on that cross-country trip you’ve always dreamed of. There are a bunch of people I know (me included) that had a big change in their life in 2015. Babies entered some friends’ lives. Some people married their soulmates. Others started new jobs (example, me), big moves, new houses, new cars (example, me [again]), etc, etc.

No matter what did or didn’t happen in 2015, the biggest thing you can say is: I survived 2015. Lots of people can’t say that. Death got personal for me last year, with one of my grandfathers passing away from cancer (as I’ve heard my mentor say a bunch of times, “F–k Cancer”).  He was an amazing guy, and he went out the way he would have wanted, and that’s all that matters to me.

I guarantee lots of you lost loved ones this past year. My heart goes out to all of you, as I have felt that pang a few times in my life, and each time brought me to tears for months to years. It’s hard, looking to the new year without those wonderful people in our lives. Every passing moment stabs our hearts, and it literally hurts.

Here’s a little secret though. Come closer.

Closer…

*whispers* It gets better.

Yep, it does. Does that mean it will get to a point where you will feel nothing? No, unfortunately, the human race has not developed the technology to put your memory into an unfeeling, superhuman automaton with wifi in the head and a feeling suppressor where your heart should be. Sorry, I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon. Or, ever, if we’re lucky.

Feeling sadness or depression can be seen as a bad thing, and, to be honest, it is. As someone who’s suffered depression in the past, it’s hard. You shrink away from people, trying to hide the sadness and anxiety in your heart. Wanting someone to listen but not willing to talk about it. Biting back tears when looking at your bank account, your sick sibling/parent, or even just a simple picture.

But, the fact of the matter is, YOU’RE FEELING. Being able to feel is an amazing gift. It allows you to express what you like/don’t like about a situation, and to let others know what you think about something. Feeling is just feeling; there’s no other way to describe it, really. But, it’s amazing when you think about it. It’s something we take for granted.

For instance, I’m worried about an upcoming project of mine (more news in the distant future). That alerts me to plan things out, and have a backup plan should things not turn out right. It also tells me to keep going, so I can prove to myself that I was worried about nothing.

I’m scared of change. This informs me that when change happens, I need to fight back against the fear and take every hit, because, usually, it’ll be worth it in the end.

I’m happy I have a loving family, and a caring, awesome group of close friends. Without them, I wouldn’t have gotten this far in my work career, my writing career, or life in general. Feeling that happiness makes me feel warm and fuzzy and lets me know that not everything sucks.

And I’m upset about death. However, it’s a fact of life. We all will die in the end. If you need advice on how to handle death and your impending demise, consult the Adam Ruins Everything finale. Just a warning, the end is depressing (if you couldn’t guess that already by the topic).

But that doesn’t mean that everything about death is horrible. You have to look at it a different way. Sure, the physical body of the person you love is buried in the ground, but now you have a guardian angel looking out for you. Sure, they can’t affect anything on this plane of being anymore, but the things they did do in our existence left a mark on the lives of so many other people on this Earth. They can’t verbally speak to you anymore, but they live on inside you, in your memories, in your words, in your actions. We choose to focus on their death, because it’s seems easiest to do. But, that hurts you in the end. Don’t focus on their death; focus on their LIFE. The bonds they created that even death cannot break. The changes they made in their own life that affected others in a positive way. The lives they altered, simply by existing and interacting with the world. Their childhood, their schooling, their careers, their family, their friends. At some point in our lives, we made a mark on someone else’s existence, and that’s what we should focus on.

To tell the truth, I would not be on this blog, writing this post right now, if someone in my life hadn’t died. In fact, I wouldn’t be a writer at all. My uncle, while only an active part of my childhood for a year of my elementary school journey, passed away. I was eleven. He was forty.

He was supposed to die at eighteen.197952_1002567381076_3062_n

He was blind, but a genius. He worked as an engineer as an adult, even without being able to see. He had a loving family, who he chose to spend the last year of his life with. He didn’t let his illness or incapacities stop him from achieving his dreams. When he died, I took on that mantra. The night of his death, I wrote my first poem that wasn’t a school assignment. My mother read it – all three pages – and told me I should be a writer.

Almost twelve years later, I have published a novel – dedicated to him, as you’ll see if you picked it up on Amazon -, finished almost ten manuscripts, graduated college a semester early, got an amazing job three months after graduating, and have big plans for the next several years in the career that his death inspired me to take on. I learned to look at the life he had on this earth, not the fact he was gone. Because, I guess, he’s living on inside of me, pushing me to keep going when things get tough.

So, to 2016, I am going to keep pushing forward. No matter what you might throw at me, I will look at my book, my manuscripts, or that poem I wrote twelve years ago – which my mother has made hundreds of copies of throughout the years – and remember why I’m doing this.

Twenty-sixteen:

Bring.

It.

On.

Fighting Back- What Relay for Life 2014 Taught Me

“ERRRR!”

That is the best description of my dryer. A high pitched, incredibly loud alarm that I can do nothing to stop. It lasts all of three seconds, but it’s scary enough to make me jump when it goes off.

Sometimes I debate leaving to do something while the dryer runs, so I won’t have to be terrified for those few seconds of that obnoxious annoyance. However, that’s running away from something I’m afraid of.

That’s one thing I’ve had to learn as I grow up: you shouldn’t run away from your fears, but confront them. Now, this is coming from me, the most timid, terrified chicken in my school. I’m scared of walking past a scary set of factories at night to get back to my apartment (a stretch of walkway I like to call the “Factory District”). I’m scared of pain, as I have a very low pain tolerance.

The biggest thing I’m afraid of, though, is failure. And not just failure of one task either. It’s failure in school, in writing, in friendship, in LIFE. And those fears keep me from furthering myself in the world. If I pushed those thoughts out of my head – the ones that are afraid of people’s opinions and what is defined as success – I may be able to succeed in ways I never could have imagined. Sure, results may vary, but you can’t really judge when you have blinders on.

For example, I captained my organization’s Relay for Life team this year. When I showed up to Relay, our ‘booth’ was positioned in a corner, pretty much in-between a wall (aside from the mess that was cutting hair to donate- mess meaning crowds of people watching and blocking us) and the stage, where there were speakers blasting music so loud I couldn’t hear what someone next to me was saying. We had very little traffic to our table, and some of our raffle items only got one person bidding on them. I also had to call on the help of my family to aid me in running the booth, as some of my fellow organization members had prior commitments that limited their time at Relay.

At first, all I could dwell on was that what I had feared had actually happened: where we didn’t get a lot of people to our table and were exhausted when the event ended at 5AM the next morning. However, as the week since had gone on, I’ve picked out the positives. We may have not made as much money as we wanted, but we still made some money to help cancer patients. We may have not had as many people rallying for money online as I had hoped, but we still reached our initial goal. … And then five stretch goals after that, coming to a total of $1,060 of donations in exactly a month’s time.

It might have been a long night, but my sister, grandma, and dad all had a blast during the event. I watched my seventeen-year-old sister dancing and having fun with college students. I saw my dad up on the track, dancing as he did laps for our team (we made 251 laps around the track during the 12-hour event). I got to watch my grandma as she looked down on the stage from the track and listen to the speakers that initiated the event.

Plus, once our organization’s team got back from the State Conference, they had something special to give me. 😉

So, think about this for a second. If I had imagined all that good stuff happening before the event started, would I have felt any different during? Well, no, probably not. I would have still been exhausted, hungry, and forcing positivity the whole night. However, sometimes, they do make things better. Once I had realized all those good things that came from participating and running that event booth, I felt proud of myself for what I’d done. I had learned new things and helped an organization that is currently close to my heart right now.

I didn’t let the fear consume me. I still put on a smiling face and pushed though, and soon found out it had all been worth it.

So, if your dryer is making you jump out of your seat, remember this: it has to end sometime. So push against those fears, and you’ll soon see it was worth it.

“ERRRR!”

… Man, this is going to be hard.