I told you I would write when I had something worthwhile to share. So here goes:
I (finally) landed a job! I accepted Wednesday. For months I have tried to assess my body, my energy, my chemobrain. My will to return was clear, but would I be too tired to wake in time for a 9 a.m. meeting and last until a 5 p.m. conference call? I think I can, I think I can.
The best part? The job is at Golin Harris in downtown Chicago, meaning that after three years I’ll finally live in the same state as Jimmy. It’s about time.
When I left my job near the White House and my apartment near the Pentagon the morning after I was diagnosed last year, I packed only one suitcase. I think that is the only time in my life I have grossly under-packed.
As I had the opportunity to tell Kerri Miller in an interview on Minnesota Public Radio yesterday, “You have to always be ready to have your life interrupted in a big way” when you’re a young adult with a (mega) cancer history.
Boy, did I mean that. And not just for me, but for those close to me. Suddenly my dad devoted a two-hour drive to Mayo Clinic nearly every night after work; my friends confided less in me for fear I’d respond, “Get a real problem.” And unlike most interruptions, cancer lasts longer than it should, and longer than most realize.
These last months have been the hardest yet mentally. When you’re no longer going through treatment, no longer so visible, no longer so obviously sick. Figuring out how to transition back to work and not lose your healthcare in the process. Having an appetite to go out while still living at home with your parents, most of your friends in their city apartments with big-girl jobs two hours away. You can only hold people’s attention for so long, and you only want their attention for so long. Your hair starts to grow back. People assume you’re a hipster, not a cancer patient. People stare and wonder about your scars instead of look at you with empathy.
All that free time. I felt guilty for not making the most of it, reading too few books and watching too much Project Runway. Wasting time feels ungrateful. As my new pen pal Suleika Jaouad, who entered the hospital this week for her own bone marrow transplant in the hopes of an MDS cure, said in her most recent blog post in The New York Times, “Since the diagnosis, my life has been a slow emergency, my world a waiting room.”
I’m sick of waiting around, yielding to the pace of cancer. I even gel my hair into a purposeful faux-hawk (you know I can’t pull off a total mohawk) these days to make my hair look like “I meant to.” (sure, photo to come)
I’m ready to get back my momentum. I’m shutting the door on the cancer crawl.
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