May 5, 2010

finding purpose.

i woke up this morning, and had a totally surreal realization...i survived cancer. that probably sounds really ridiculous to all of you, but that's exactly how it felt. almost ten months ago, i was told i had a large mass in my chest...and then i was thrown into surgeries, scans, chemo, radiation, appointments, anxiety, fear, etc. then, i woke up today as a normal twenty something. a normal twenty something who's also a cancer survivor.

i don't know why, or how, i've been able to move past it so 'easily' (nothing about this has really been easy). perhaps my ability to maintain a pretty decent sense of normalcy throughout this has really braced me for my return to the real world. i feared the transition for some time, and then when i woke up this morning i realized it sort of just happened while i wasn't paying attention.

and, while i'm quite excited that i've had very little emotional trauma lately, there are a few things that have been a little more difficult.... for one, life seems a little more flat right now than it has over the last few months. i thought about this on my way to work the other day, trying to determine what about life was missing. i think what it boils down to is for the last ten months, i've woken up with a clear purpose - to fight cancer. there's a heroic attitude that goes with that...i woke up feeling proud, strong and determined. my goal was so clear to me, and that was the most important thing i would do with my day. now, i don't wake up every day and actively fight cancer...and, it sort of feels like i have less purpose. or, less urgent purpose. i know i have lots of purpose for being here...and more than i ever did before. it'll just be a new challenge to find that purpose and dig deep to uncover that same strength and will that i had when my task was to fight cancer. this one might not be thrown in my face in quite the same way, but i know i've been given the experience and insight to seek it out myself.

the other part of this that will be a little difficult is realizing who i am as a cancer survivor. it would be silly to think i'll go back to the same person i was pre-cancer...and, to be honest, i would never want to go back to being that person again. i know i am more mature, more insightful, grateful, kind, compassionate and honest than i ever was. i'm more genuine...i'm more me. cancer makes you vulnerable. you have to find out what you're really made of when you're faced with contemplating your own mortality, the reality of your relationships with others, your self image, your will to push forward and your breaking point. there are lots of times when you're fighting cancer where you don't care at all what others are thinking about you...and these are the best moments to get to know yourself. and, sometimes it really sucks to look at yourself in the most vulnerable moments...because, it's at those moments that you really can see the things you don't like about yourself. but, with an open mind, it's those moments of awareness that allow us to make positive changes.

so, what's my plan? to use the last ten months of my life to propel me forward with sincere purpose. i will work to maintain all the positive qualities i learned through my experience. i will never spend time doing things i just 'sort of' enjoy. i will focus my priorities on things that i really do value. i will work harder than i've ever worked to strengthen the bonds that i've made with people who stood by me through my journey through cancer. and, i will find purpose in every day, every moment, and every activity. just as i found optimism in cancer, i will find purpose in life after cancer...i just have to open my eyes, and my mind.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Grace,

    You said it so well!
    I relate a lot to these thoughts.
    That vulnerability that fighting cancer puts us in touch with does show us ourselves more clearly then we have perhaps ever seen before. It has remained a part of my own vision- whenever I begin to take a day for granted or start to feel upset or worried about something miniscule in comparison...I just remind myself of what I've been through to be here now. And remember that feeling of what I really am. Life is a precious gift- each and every moment of it! Love you friend! Welcome to the "after-life" :)