Once upon a time…
So, where do I begin? Maybe with the questions that won’t stop ringing through my mind. What now? What happens after cancer? Who am I now that this nightmare is on its way out?
As I walked the beach in Kitsilano on a cloudy day in June, I contemplated my life’s direction. With chemo and the second of three surgeries behind me, I tried to pep talk myself into a state of optimism. It didn’t work. I continued to feel like a depressed drifter: caught between a past that no longer belonged to me and an unpredictable future.
The best selling ‘self-help’ books made it sound so elementary. I obviously just needed to tell the universe what I wanted. If I could envision it, I could make my future a reality. So, I selected the most powerful woman in the world as my conduit.
If I didn’t know what to do, maybe Oprah could help me. Isn’t she all knowing? Doesn’t she rescue people from the depths of their communal despair? Maybe she could ‘hook me up’ and I could begin my new life? I giddily composed and sent her an email, then checked my inbox every day for a week.
You don’t know me yet, but I hope that one day you will. I am 31, single, and live in Vancouver, Canada. On October 27, 2009, life as I knew it ended. Perhaps the universe was trying to send me a message to slow down and question whether the stresses of my life were serving me. It worked. My diagnosis of breast cancer brought my career, my quest to meet the perfect man, and my obsession with slimming my hips to an abrupt halt.
The last six months have included a lumpectomy, lymph node dissection, four rounds of chemotherapy, and a bi-lateral mastectomy and those are just the bright, shiny clinical words. I have also contemplated issues surrounding my future fertility, stared at my bald head in the mirror, and experienced what feels like worst PMS of my life as well as the inability to remember even my own name (courtesy of the chemo drugs). The next six months involve procedures to transform my now flat chest back into a perkier version of its old self.
My story may not be unique, but I believe my journey could inspire many. My dream is to write a book. I believe that impacting people in a positive way is what I was put on this earth to do. I believe that the recent events in my life are opening a door to who I was always meant to become.
This isn’t just a book about cancer. This is a book about surviving hardship, but not identifying yourself as the victim…a book about using humour to laugh your way through terror…a book about the search for God or a deeper meaning to life, but not a religious book …a book about finding love in the strangest of places, but learning that someone else’s love can’t save you…a book about realizing that underneath all of the fear and shame we cloak ourselves in, we (even with all of our imperfections) really are enough.
I thought it might be fitting to ask the universe (and you) to help me. I am not an English major and have never written anything except emails and the odd high school essay. I would be grateful if by telling my story I might meet people that can help me navigate this new chapter in my life
It’s almost 3 months later and I still haven’t heard back. WTF? Yes, I could kid myself and believe the producers are going to show up at my apartment (cue sappy music and me with surprised look on my face when I open the door) and then whisk me away to Chicago. But, let’s be real. Even though I used all of the appropriate Oprah language, my email had probably long since been buried in a harried administrator’s inbox.
So, here I am. Stubbornly ready to take on the challenge. Join me in my journey as I write my first book, navigate through a post cancer world, and do my best to uncover the future with a little class and hopefully a lot of humour.