Because this is my blog and I have cancer, I want to take a moment to be entirely sincere and not at all ironic. About 6 weeks ago I wrote a personal statement for admission to the UW Graduate School for a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. In my statement I had to speak to life’s challenges and I found myself admitting to living a charmed life full of love, support, and easy accomplishments. For whatever reasons, I landed in a loving, intelligent, and funny family who raised me in the Safest Small City in the US. Genes conspired to endow a skill set on me valued by the hegemony and we live in progressive enough times that life as a middle class white woman is without many major obstacles.
I was diagnosed with Leukemia almost 3 weeks ago. I just finished what hopefully will be the most physically brutal part of my Chemotherapy regimen and this feeling of fortune has not changed.
In the last few weeks I have felt a tremendous outpouring of love and support from the various communities who have touched my life at different points. I can’t begin express the deep feeling of gratitude I feel towards the universe for bringing me such a charmed existence. Yes, it sucks that I have cancer. Yes, there is more shit to come. But my blessings (if you will) far outnumber this one shitty thing that has happened to me.
I haven’t said much about the practicalities of how challenging cancer can be for some folks. You should know I have managed to skirt the worst of it. I work with wonderful, supportive people who have given the freedom to be sick and to heal on my own schedule. I don’t worry about employment. I have health insurance! Despite the 2 months of Misdiagnosis by my first dermatologist, connections brought me to someone competent who expedited my care and referred me to one of the best oncologists in the Northwest. Since undergoing treatment, every healthcare provider I have had has treated me with tremendous respect and kindness. I cannot say enough wonderful things about the nursing staff on the oncology unit of Swedish Medical Center. What an amazing, empowered group of women committed to my health and that of others. Even more conveniently, Swedish is a 5 minute drive from my house and place of employment. You know how I feel about commuting in Seattle—this is a huge deal.
Tonight I’m cleaning my room and finally getting a chance catch up on the 40+ cards from church members at the First Congregational Church that I grew up in in Corvallis. I love this community and have ardently defended the value of organized religion in that it can and has done remarkably positive things for so many people. This is a perfect example of a faith community not just being PC about social justice but expressing real love, faith, and support for each other out of religious belief.
And then there are those most close to me. My friends, my family. Your calls and emails never cease to amaze me. How did so many 20-somethings learn to be so freaking intelligent, compassionate, and sensitive? I expect wisdom (and have received it!) from my many adopted aunts and uncles—you’ve always been my rocks and the people who have convinced me that I have value to those beyond my biological parents. You are in reason I have such an indomitable ego! I’ve been watching a LOT of TV lately so it seems particularly profound and lucky that I know so many intelligent, thoughtful human beings.
Here is my conclusion (should you choose to skip over the cheese). I can actually feel the fact that so many people are thinking of me. I don’t know what it is, but it matters. I have always had a strong sense of myself and optimism but this disease has challenged that in new ways. Feeling you reflect my strength back at me magnifies it. Thank you for believing in me—it is so powerful. I feel it tangibly
3 years ago