5 Fun Things To Do If You Have Cancer: #5: LIBERATE!
May 16, 2014
In the vlog, I’m at the beginning of my cancer journey. In real time, I am coming out of what has been by far the least fun part of my journey. I think the best time to seek out fun is when life sucks. So, to that end, I’ve come up with five fun things to do if you have cancer (or even if you don’t).
Fun Thing #5
I would say I am a fairly confident person. I don’t think there’s a lot of big things that scare me: not spiders, or heights, or the dark. But, I learned through having cancer that I have a lot of little every day fears that inhibit me all the time. Fear of judgment, fear of rejection, fear of failure. We all know these fears. Moreover, we all know these are stupid fears, because regardless of what we do, we are going to be judged, and rejected; and sometimes we will fail. What I didn’t realize before cancer was how insidious these fears are. Here is a humiliating example:
When I ride the subway, if I am sitting on a crowded train next to someone who is Black/Latino/Asian, I will not change seats even if a “better seat” (ie. one that does not require me to pressed up against the person next to me) opens up. Why? Because I don’t want anyone to think I’m racist, and that I’m changing seats because I don’t want to sit next to a Black/Latino/Asian person.
I’m pretty sure the fat black dude who I rode body to body with on the F Train, until we were the only two people left in the car thinks I have a crush on him; but better that than he think I’m a small-minded girl from Wisconsin.
I know! I’m crazy! But, if you look at your life, I promise you that you do something equally crazy to avoid the potential judgment of strangers. But since cancer, I no longer fear the judgment of subway dwellers.
The best thing about cancer is that (for a while at least), nothing else really matters. For a while, you don’t give a fuck about anything less serious than cancer. Not giving a fuck is the most liberating thing in the whole God damn world.
Now, as time goes on, this feeling of freedom lessens; but the reminder of “Hey, you’re gonna die. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but it’s gonna happen” helped motivate me to sit wherever the fuck I want on the subway!
More than that, it has helped me ask for more. If you want something—don’t hope for it, don’t wish for it, don’t secret it—ask for it. You won’t get things that you don’t ask for or won’t admit you want. Sometimes, you will be rejected; but that’s okay! You’ll live (not forever), either way!
Having cancer is scary, but sometimes being scared—really scared, let’s you put other petty fears behind you. That is one thing—one fun thing—cancer gave me.
I hate people who talk about the ways in which cancer shaped their life for the better. I hate it because I think about the last year of my life, and while I’ve found ways to have fun with cancer—I can think of a million more ways I would have had fun without it.
That said, the liberation from fear I've felt is something I hope to carry with me for the rest of my life. Cancer has given me permission to take more risks, and hopefully that will mean more fun in the long run.