Ten years ago today.
“You have cancer,” she said, on this day ten years ago.
And so, with a decade under my belt, here’s what I would say to my scared, naïve, sick little 18-year-old-self:
- Your hair will grow back. It will take way longer than you want it to, and you will look ridiculous in the meantime. But it will grow back. And your new favorite cliché will be ‘a bad hair day is better than a no-hair-day.’
- You’ll get a puppy. The best puppy ever. And you’ll name her Kimo. #CauseObviously. And she’ll be around for two more rounds of Temme cancer. But everyone will be ok. Cause that puppy is good luck.
- This will not be the hardest season of your life. Take this one in stride. It will suck. You’ll be really sick. You’ll break up with your high school sweetheart in the midst of it. You’ll get fat from the medicine and ditching your USF cheerleading workout regime. But it will not kill you. Seasons to come, will feel so much more lethal. But you’ll weather those too. And people will squish your cheeks over how ‘strong you are.’
- You will get sick of people telling you that you’re strong. Cause you’ll get sick of BEING strong. But just remember, that at your core, that’s what you are. You are made of strong stuff.
- Your veins will never come back. You’ll always hate hospitals and certain smells will still make you gag. But you’ll learn what it means to be thankful for healthy blood work.
- This cancer thing…it’ll give you an extra dose of ‘love’ and ‘miss.’ You’ll love your family and friends so hard. And you’ll have forever FOMO of them having fun or celebrating or struggling without you. So you’ll fly to them. Over and over and over, from every nook and cranny of the world. You’ll fly to them to smile or cry. Sometimes both. Because that’s what they’re doing for you right now. You’ll spend your life trying to give that back.
- Take the miralax when your oncologist suggests it. Ain’t no shame in softening the pain of chemo. Being embarrassed or shameful of who you are and what you’re going through is the devil’s play. Let it go.
- You’ll grow in your faith. You might pray for healing now. People will certainly do that for you all over the world while you’re sick. But through that, and through the subsequent seasons, you’ll find your spirit and you’ll develop your personal testimony.
- Speaking of love, you’ll fall. Some will catch you and some will drop you. But you will feel real love. And it’ll make all the difference.
- You’ll travel the world. You’ll take this suck-fest, and the ones to come, and you’ll make globetrotting lemonade. You’ll meet your people and live a bucket list for the ages. You’ll swim with elephants in Chiang Mai, dance on Lowenbrau fest tables in Munich and avoid snake charmers in Marrakech. You’ll bungee jump in Queenstown, paraglide in Algodonales and take a cooking class in Hoi An. You’ll go to the Kentucky Derby, the opening day of college ball in Sydney and bull fighting in Lisboa. You’ll do all of that and a bunch in between., with an insatiable thirst for adventure and memory-making, because of right now.
So while you hate the now. Know that time will pass. And before you can blink, ten years will go by. And as that time passes, the fact that ‘you have cancer’ won’t even be the most interesting thing about you anymore. You’ll grow into a nuanced, experienced, healthy woman. And you’ll thank God for giving you some more time to become.