Last month I was perusing the blogs that I follow, and I was sad to realize that our Becca is gone. I say "our Becca" because she was a vocal (and super-awesome) young adult cancer blogger, who shared her journey and followed along as we shared ours. She was part of our collective voice, and she will always be, thanks to her writing. I am extremely touched that her mother continues to post her journal entries, so that we may benefit from Becca's private insight. I have years and years of journal entries just like Becca's, and I would hope that my mom would do the same. I think our shared goal is always: I want to be of benefit. I want my life to mean something to someone. I think that by sharing our deepest fears and pains, we can accomplish this in an especially intimate way.
I met the fiercely intelligent Becca in 2008 through Planet Cancer. She commented occasionally on this blog and she always had good advice. I guess it was as if she'd done 5 successive tours of duty-- she'd been at war for awhile, and she knew the ropes. We all exchange battle stories, but in the end it seems we still feel hopelessly alone. We fight alone. Nevertheless, there are things that Becca wrote, privately, that make me feel not-so-alone:
"You know what one of the most awful parts of cancer is? Knowledge.Of course, that is an odd statement, because at first I would be inclined to say that is one of the gifts of cancer. When trying to appease myself somehow with the thought of cancer and all that it entails, I would find a very small amount of comfort in certain knowledge that comes with diagnosis.That knowledge includes things such as: I KNOW the true meaning of the phrase 'Life is Short'."
[I often feel that I "know too much" for my own mental health, due to what cancer has taught me.]
"I think often how I don't think I'll be alive very long. not like I think I may keel over, say, tomorrow. but unless a miracle happens very very soon, I feel inevitably, I'll be defeated :( (incidentally, it's now tomorrow & I didn't keel over...). I sometimes wonder why i can't just get it easy & fall asleep one night & just not wake up? I wonder if people that has happened to, if they could ever appreciate how lucky they are to have that happen. they not only have no idea that's coming, they don't have to spend time agonizing over unfinished business... they don't have to worry about the pain and suffering associated with a sudden violent death. I really envy those people. Anywho, I'm kinda just weary on life today. I can't wrap my mind around my life at this time. I don't seem able to find motivation in order to "care" about things. & in general...I'm just tired of people. normal people. they bother me without even trying or attempting to. oh, that, and it's back to cold. BAH."
[link to Becca's amazingly articulate, literally bad-ass blog here]
I want to dedicate my life, somehow, to young adults with cancer-- there is nothing else I feel passionate about anymore. I've spent the last few months in an incredibly deep depression. It has been difficult coming to terms with life in the afterglow of cancer. It has left an indelible mark of uncertainty and finality upon my life. It has left physical and mental pain that has yet to resolve, and at times is overwhelming. I am still searching for a life after cancer. Turns out it doesn't just come to you naturally, like breathing, as one would expect. You really have to fight for stability and your own ideal future. You have to come to terms with the knowledge you've been given-- that pain endures, and death is imminently unknown, and therefore life is precious and bullshit is insufferable. Right now, that's what I'm working on. If I can get past those things, and stay healthy, I'll be golden.
I am unsure what role I will play in cancer advocacy, but I'd like it to be an ongoing goal. For now, Jon and I are continuing with our Cancer Comic. If things go as planned, we should have the entire graphic novel finished by September, just in time for the MTV documentary to air. We are adding some of my personal writing to the final publication, and I've been thinking about opening up a submissions process to allow fellow cancer writers and artists to be published. Thoughts? Anyone interested in submitting an essay or illustration to Terminally Illin? I feel that it could have a monumental effect on the future cancer community if it became a communal, collective effort... but I'm unsure of how to facilitate this.
I am also planning on being much more active here on CIH, because I've realized that my writing continues to positively effect people's lives. I want to say that I appreciate immensely the feedback that my readers give-- there are many visitors largely unknown to me that have been following my story for years, probably out of morbid curiosity, but also out of compassion and a genuine appreciation for human expression. People like me, people like Becca. People like you. Let's keep sharing, no matter what.