Friday, October 19, 2012


When I was diagnosed with cancer, one of the first things I was able to articulate in terms of what I was feeling- but kept to myself- was the the sensation I'd been robbed or violated. My body was playing a cruel trick on me, and instead of being the vehicle to propel my spirit forward, it was attempting to kill me and all the potential I had. At twenty-one I didn't exactly know how it would all come together, but I knew I had great things to do, people to save, lives to impact, and suddenly it was all in jeopardy. There was this sense of loss, and I mourned for a long time.

What did I lose? I described it as my invincibility. I was robbed of my invincibility. Cancer took an open and endless future and built an invisible brick wall in front of me, and while I didn't know exactly where it was, I believed that at some point I would hit that wall, and it would all be over. I also had this picture in my head of this superhero cape being ripped from my shoulders. I carried this sentiment for a long, long time. For years I dreaded the day I'd hit that wall, because I knew it was there. I was angry, and I wanted my cape back.

At the beginning of the summer something funny happened. I went for a bike ride. It was one of the first long rides I did, and when I came home, I noticed my arms were a little pink. I gasped and felt a deep sense of guilt. I'd forgotten to put on sunscreen. The guilt was tempered by a pride and excitement, I had forgotten to put on sunscreen. I could not remember the last time I'd done that. As a melanoma survivor, I am very, very, very well aware that I should wear sunscreen, and I do. However, this particular day, I forgot. In the last six years, I had never, ever forgotten to put on sunscreen.

While I was mad I'd forgotten, I couldn't help but smile, because I knew in that moment that I'd just gotten my cape back. By forgetting the sunscreen, I'd done something the cancer-fearing, robbed-of-my-invincibility self would have never done. As for that invisible wall, I'm not sure whether it's in front of me or behind me, but I've made peace with that, because I wouldn't take back the journey that brought me here.