As I lay here in bed with my boyfriend snoring beside me (sorry Colin), I can’t sleep. I can’t sleep because my mind is going a million miles a minute. I am googling, as I do every night “people with brain tumors” “brain tumor success stories”. I will wake up tomorrow and watch Ted talks and video blogs and contemplate reaching out to every single survivor who has inspired me in some way. I will, as I do every day, google my symptoms, wonder if I am developing hydrocephalus, think about calling my surgeon because I am nervous about the potential of this and the potential of that. Why is it, that the thing that terrifies me the most – fascinates me even more? Why is it that despite the fact that I am moving forward, I continue to succumb to this growth inside my head? Maybe it’s my personality – I like to know the details of things. Or perhaps it’s the fact that I am symptomatic. “Is my tumor growing?” Is a common theme residing in my daily thoughts.
Every time I see someone I am asked “how do you do it?” They usually go on to say that they would be a mess and they wouldn’t know how to handle going through something similar. I don’t usually know how to respond. Because the truth is, I have no choice but to go through this right now. And the real truth lies in what I so vulnerably described above. I worry. I stress. I google. I seek help. I go through the motions every single day.
While I’ve always had lots of friends, it isn’t until you go through something like this that you truly understand what a friend is. The other day I couldn’t handle what I was feeling. I showed up at her house crying and anxious as ever. Shortly after, she was crying too. We vented, we stressed, we yelled and we said several times “this isn’t fair”. And then somehow without even realizing it, the subject had changed. We were talking about normal day to day events. And it wasn’t until she called me the next day to say “I love how you came over crying and left my house laughing” – that I realized the importance of having moments like these. Moments that can transform a state of crisis into a state of pure joy. Moments that help you release all sorts of emotions in a short period of time. And how lucky am I to have a friend who cares so much about me that she refuses to let me go through these feelings alone.
Whatever the case may be, I am getting by in more ways than one. There is no rule book or guide line for how to respond when your world is shaken. I happen to be a very open person who is coping by writing and talking with others. And for the first time in my life, I truly understand the depths of human experience and adversity that most people face. When I share my story with someone, they usually share theirs back. Whether it’s a friend of a friend, a stranger, or the lady at the spa – everybody has one. And although I have been known for “giving advice” and “looking at the positives”, the truth is – I’ve never really ‘got it’ until this point in my life. With adversity comes great strength, wisdom, compassion and human connection. And with my new found awareness, I am forever changed.
I know things are crazy right now but I know things will be okay. I have never doubted that. As each day goes on, I will slowly stop worrying. The google searches will diminish and I will stop thinking the worst. I don’t know when this will be, but I hope that when the day comes I will be a source of inspiration for somebody who is feeling the way I do right now. I hope that my written words will show up on somebody’s computer screen as a result of them googling for the same reasons I did. I also hope that because I was courageous enough to show my vulnerabilities, somebody who usually bottles up theirs will open up to somebody they love. And even if that is just one person, I feel that my work is done.