There’s not much going on here, as evidenced by the fact that I haven’t posted in a few weeks. Here are some random things that would never be posts on their own, a short story collection of blog posts, if you will.
Worst/Funniest response I’ve had thus far to “I have cancer”:
“Shut up! No, you don’t. Where is it?”
Surely you jest, you must be thinking. But no, someone actually said this to me. It was super awkward. There really isn’t a good reply for this. I said, “Um…yeah…my blood, and bone marrow.” And then I had to explain what bone marrow is. So if you felt uncomfortable talking to me in our first few encounters after I found out I had cancer, fear not: you were never this insensitive.
Hardest thing I’ve realized about myself:
I’m rubbish at follow through. So many of my friends sent me deeply encouraging messages, and I haven’t replied. Why? Because I’m a dope. Also because I feel guilty and ashamed and undeserving when people tell me they care about me. It’s really hard for me to take grace and love from God and from people when I know that I deserve hell, and that’s evidence of my pride.
Madeleine L’Engle (one of my three favorite writers in no particular order along with J.R.R. Tolkien and George MacDonald) is much smarter than I am and a much better writer, and she says it simply: “Refusing to accept God’s love because we’re unworthy – of course we’re unworthy! – is another golden calf.” Being sick a lot is really good for me, because it shows me the golden calves in my life. I’m a bit thick and I would have trouble facing them otherwise, I think. God is using this. He’s using it to His glory.
Best thing about cancer:
It’s making me realize that I need other people. My whole life I thought that I had to do everything. It’s been really hard for me to recognize the lie in that and move away from connecting asking for help to shame. But doing it on your own doesn’t really work when you have even a mild kind of cancer like me. So I have to let my dear friends stop every two hours on our cross-country road trip so that I can stretch my legs and not get a blood clot, even if I hate making people wait around for me. I have to let my friends serve me in that way.
I have to let my boss send me home early when I have a migraine so bad I can’t see out of my left eye, even though I feel like I’m disappointing everyone. And it’s okay. God doesn’t stop loving me because I recognize and admit my need for His grace and the love of the community in which He has placed me. My friends and my boss still care about me even if I miss three hours of work or cause ten extra breaks at creepy rest stops in Nowheresville, Iowa. Have I mentioned that I have awesome friends and bosses? Because I do.
My chant: “When in doubt, cancer card out!”
There’s this moment in Brian Jacques’ excellent book “Mariel of Redwall” where he points out that sometimes when people face serious situations they make more jokes. I mention Jacques because reading this in fourth grade was the first time I had come across the idea expressed in writing and it was very affirming for me to realize that tendency didn’t mean I was weird or morbid. I tend to make more jokes because otherwise I get overwhelmed. Making jokes about my cancer specifically–not cancer in general, or other people’s health situations–helps me to cope. So this saying is a joke because basically NO ONE in my life pays attention when I play the cancer card, which is good. I would take outrageous advantage of it if I could. But it’s fun to say!
Thing I would really rather not deal with:
People telling me that I’m wasting my life. Actually, just as I typed that I realized that the best response would be to say, “No, CANCER is wasting my life, am I right?” and then slap my knee, chuckle, and run for it. But seriously, if you know someone who is working a job that offers less than worldly prestige, please remember that Jesus was a carpenter before you judge them. And then also please remember what Jesus said about judging people.
I love catering. I believe that it is just as likely that God would call someone to cater as to teach literature. Let’s not forget that I told a professor that I thought Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” was rubbish, I like the Percy Jackson books better than Moby Dick, and cheesecake makes way more sense to me than anything James Joyce ever wrote. So here I am. Catering and loving it. Future students of literature who will NOT have me for a professor, you are welcome.
I got a message saying that my biopsy slides are headed to the big hospital to be reviewed by the specialists there. How, you may ask? Well, obviously not via T.A.R.D.I.S., or I would have had the results before the biopsy. But it’s not even through some kind of hospital Bookmobile system, as I may have guessed if I had ever stopped to think about it before this. No, it’s going through the mail. Fed Ex. So if you’re reading this and you are a mail carrier, I am sorry. My bone marrow and blood cells are in your bag with the Dear Santa letters and postcards from Paris. Think on that, friends.