I've had some very dark days this year. I saw the reality of my mortality in a way that terrified me to my bones. I’ve grieved so many things about my body that I took for granted. Recently, though, I’ve been able to climb out of that hole and take a look around. Today, I feel so, so grateful. I feel so good.
Some days I feel so deeply unlucky. Who gets breast cancer at 24? Who has not one but THREE cancer-causing genetic mutations? That’s absurd. Natural selection is desperate to get rid of me.
But I’m not unlucky. I have so much to be grateful for. Cancer somehow brought me so much good and I’d be nuts not to think about that. I have a new appreciation for life that I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t been put in this position. I no longer feel like I will be a passive observer of my own life. I want to do more, explore more, write more, draw more, laugh more. Going through this experience, I have learned to have so much more gratitude than I ever did before.
I have so much gratitude for food, so much more than I did before chemo. To be excited to eat, to really enjoy a meal is a privilege I never considered before. To enjoy a walk through the city or in the park. To be able to hike, to be able to cook, to be able to run. I will never take these things for granted again.
Cancer has also brought me more time in San Francisco. I grew so much here. I went through my first major move on my own here. I went through a pandemic here. And I made amazing friends here. It actually makes me emotional how lucky I feel to have such caring, present, thoughtful, funny, talented, amazing people in my life. It’s not easy to have a friend going through something like cancer. It throws a lot of things off balance, it’s weird, it’s different. Right now I’m needy, I’m not very easy to relate to, and I’m emotional. But my friends are incredible. I’ve realized my life is not and does not have to be cancer 24/7. It doesn’t have to stop me from living my life, it only needs to change the way I live it for a bit. I might be doing more walking than running, more sitting than standing, more lying down than sitting up. But I can still bake cookies, binge all 25 Marvel movies in order, get boba, and walk in the park with my friends.
Cancer has made me appreciate my family so much more. To be able to have them come all the way out to California to take care of me is a luxury. And even though I know it hurts them to hear it, my parents have still sat and listened to me cry on the phone when I have a day that’s more painful than normal. My family has been so there for me this whole time. They’ve talked out decisions with me for hours, run out to get me food when I can barely leave my bed, called insurance when I didn’t have the energy to figure something out myself.
Basically, I’m just feeling so lucky right now. My life is fairly tough at the moment, but it’s not as tough as it could have been without my friends and my family. And I know that I will enjoy and appreciate my life after chemo that much more because of what I went through.
In the spirit of gratitude, I wanted to also make a bonus list of all the other things I’m grateful for:
Cats. Dogs. Tea. Cookies. Smoothies. Soup. Marvel movies. YouTube theory shows. The Bachelor. Cookbooks. Electric blankets. Trees. Boba. Lotion. Popcorn. Couch cushions. Sunshine. Rain. Plants. Poetry. Phone calls. Deep breaths. Endorphins. Stretching. Home cooked meals. Nutritional yeast. Sunbasket meals. Doctors. Support groups. My car. My home. Water bottles. Stars. Meditating. Community. ❤️