I believe strongly in the power of positive thinking. I try to stay away from “it’s not fair.” It doesn’t do any good to think that way, I tell myself. But there are some moments, when I’m tired of it all, when the thought creeps in.
Sitting in my parents’ living room this morning, thinking about all the times I sat here with Mona and talked to her while cancer loomed over us. I don’t know why, but I felt like it hung over our heads. I feel ashamed to admit that, like I was letting her down to think that way. But knowing this thing was ever-present tainted everything.
The last time I was here, seven months ago, missing Mona was what tainted everything. Her absence was what hung in the air over me. Every thing made me think of when we used to sit here and talk — talk about nothing, a lot of the time. Exchange funny stories. Laugh at each others’ silly moments that we appreciated in each other. Losing her just changed everything around me.
No way could I ever have imagined that the next time I came home, I would be taking cancer pills while I sat on this couch. It hangs in the air again. It’s so frustrating that it has infiltrated every corner of my mind, seeping into everything that I do. It’s always there. I want to tell myself, get over it! Stop thinking about it all the time. Stop bringing it up in conversation. Stop letting it control so much of your mind and your day. I’m certainly more than having cancer. So why does it just take over? It’s like it does the same thing to my thoughts as it tries to do to my body.
And that’s when I start feeling like it’s not fair. Cancer isn’t fair. We just went through losing Mona. And now it’s come back into our lives. I think, I’ve always been healthy. I try to do the right things. I think I’m a good person. I’m young and have so much ahead of me. It isn’t fair that now, I have cancer.
And then I think about how easy my life has been up until now. I’ve been extremely fortunate, privileged, had everything handed to me. I’ve never had to go through anything very difficult. Does that make this less fair, because I’m less equipped to handle adversity? Does it make it more fair because I’ve had everything else so easy?
Then I think about the luck of the draw. I was born white, upper-middle class, heterosexual, cis, in the United States, into a very stable and loving family. I controlled none of that. Everything was stacked in my favor before I even got here. Cancer isn’t fair. neither is it fair that people, children and adults, are murdered for being black. Murdered for being trans. Murdered for being gay. Terrorized for no good reason because some privileged person has decided they are inexplicably less than human. None of that is fair in any sense of the word. Life isn’t fair, and to get caught up in the unfairness of my diagnosis is to ignore what happens around me every day. And to do that would be shameful.
Of course, human nature brings emotions of self pity, even when it isn’t rational. So I can’t pretend that I won’t feel this way again. I’m not trying to be self righteous. I’m sure I’ll be plenty angry and sad as I continue the journey. But I hope I can take this healthy dose of perspective to heart when those times come, and soldier on.