The Trouble With Good News

If I’m being honest with myself, and now you, I have, over the years, developed an internal confliction with receiving good news. Now, I know 99% of the world would find that to be very unusual and odd and tell me that I need to go seek help immediately – trust me, if I wasn’t living it I totally would be that person waving a red SOS flag pointing in my direction; but when you’ve been on what is now my 14 year journey of living with a curable cancer and somehow have now found myself in the 4th recurrence of it, I’m sure that you would empathize and understand.

I would say that I used to welcome and take no second thought or had any hesitancy with receiving good news in all of its glory, fullness, and greatness – even after the initial cancer diagnosis in 2008 or even after the 1st and 2nd recurrences. It really wasn’t until the 3rd and now 4th one that I’ve found myself not fully embracing and taking complete joy in receiving good news of any kind, health or non-health related. Please don’t get me wrong or misunderstand, I want good news, I crave good news, and am VERY happy to receive good news; but now the thing that I have noticed about myself is that not long after receiving the good news, I catch and find myself wondering about what impending bad news may, or may not, follow. I of course know that that is no positive or healthy way to live; and I have gotten to the point now that when those thoughts come, I acknowledge them and try to dispel them as quickly as they pop up to concentrate on the present and the good that is happening in the moment. But still, the struggle is very real nowadays between when I receive and get good news of any kind and my mind immediately wanting to wander and wonder if there is some impending not so good news right around the corner.

I think it has moreso to do with my cancer history and its cycle of acting like a rollercoaster with no escape button or exit sign in site that has happened and brought this way of thinking to my life – and also in being a Christian and knowing that Jesus, in all of His infinite power, suffered while He was here on Earth – and if Jesus, who could heal and perform miracles and speak things into existence and cause situations to change for the better, suffered, me being a Christian and believing in Him does not make me immune to suffering. The Bible even tells us to expect it!

So while I am wading in this murky water of yet another recurrence of a curable disease, I am going to make this public declaration of being more intentional about fully celebrating all of the good news that I receive – health related and non-health related – because life really is too short to do anything else other than that and we only get one pass at life here on Earth. I feel like I’ve said and done this before in previous posts; but I promise I am really making an effort!

I could allow my present suffering to overshadow all of the great things and experiences that I’ve been able to have on this 14 year off-and-on-Facebook-complicated-relationship with cancer; but that would be too easy and do a disservice to all of the great experiences, opportunities, and things that have happened over these years in the midst of it all. And though sometimes they’re not the first memories to pop up when I think about how life has been between the initial diagnosis in 2008 and this newest recurrence here in April of 2022, there has been a lot of good news and great things that have happened that should be given its credit and due shine.

Let’s Do Lunch

As a self proclaimed introvert, I have the tendency of agreeing to do certain things with other people and then not following up or following through with those plans. Not because I don’t like the person, but because I put unnecessary pressure on myself to display or portray myself as being an extroverted socialite that has the gift of gab and can carry on an hour + long conversation with minimal breaks of silence when said meetups actually do happen – thus making me not want to have any other interactions like that with anyone in the future.

Yesterday I received a total and abrupt reality check though when I learned that a very nice and sweet co-worker, whom I got along great with and who had such a sweet spirit and personality, and also who I had agreed to having lunch with, but never penned or secured a date and time to have lunch with, unexpectedly passed away Monday night leaving myself and the rest of the campus community in a total state of shock. In my mind, I always felt like me and her would eventually have gotten around to doing lunch and/or interacting outside of the workplace – especially once the pandemic ended. Never did I ever think that she would’ve passed away before the opportunity or invitation would be brought up in conversation again. She was only 7 years older than me – though she looked much younger – and had no major health issues that I knew of. I just saw her on a Zoom 2-3 weeks ago!

Hearing of someone else’s death has a way of making you think about your own mortality; and causes you to make empty promises to yourself to do better and be better. Nevertheless, this tragic reminder of the fragility of life has already got my brain buzzing; and given me a charge to making me commit myself to saying “yes” and penning down an actual date to the next offer and invitation of “let’s do lunch.”

Random Rants & Ravings

… and go!

  • Why is it May of 2021 and the coronavirus is still around and still a headline?!
  • Why hasn’t the creator of the coronavirus released the antidote for it into the air to get rid of it?! – because I mean the virus itself has been re-created in labs for testing and trials so clearly, or not so clearly, it could have been made in a lab or something… and if people can pay to do cloud seeding to prevent or cause weather from ruining something like a wedding, surely the same thing should be able to be done about the virus, right tho’?! I’m just sayin’. If only things were that simple, right? (lol) ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • Since the government can never agree on anything bipartisanly, why don’t they just elect a Republican/Democrat for President and then elect someone from the opposite party (Republican/Democrat) for VP, like maybe the person who lost – which would then force the 2 parties to find a way to work together and compromise on what each side wants and is willing to do. It would be a “win-win” because each party would have a representative in positions of the “highest power”. I’m just sayin’… Problem. Solution.
  • Why does CancerMatch not actually match single cancer patients/survivors?! I would guess that 90% or more of us who originally got on the site thought that it was going to be set up like eHarmony or Match, but for cancer patients/survivors who find it challenging to online date the “regular” way. But it’s not. At all. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • Why and how has social media now become “what can I post to get the most likes and get the most attention?” from its original purpose of simply just connecting people – like family and old high school/college friends – and using social media as a platform to see the life updates in their lives, like marriage, education, etc.
  • Why has Kellogg’s still not thought about using resealable bags for their Eggos?!?! – i’m tired of my Eggos getting freezer burned if I don’t eat them up in a week!
  • Why are the most attractive males on these dating sites either agnostic or atheist?! You can be a fine looking dude and love Jesus too! I’m just sayin’.
  • The U.S. has become waaaaaaaaaay too “gun happy”. It’s been like the go to thing lately for when people are unhappy or don’t like someone or something. I mean I guess misery really does love company; but it don’t take all that. One of my favorite people said it best when I used to punch him when he would annoy me back in college: “use your words!”
  • Why does everything I like get discontinued?! – dark Twix, the regular sized dark Reese’s peanut butter cups, Wise Nacho Twisters, them Black Bean and Garlic Tostitos, Smokey Red BBQ Doritos, the KFC twister wrap and potato wedges, the Cracker Barrel crispy chicken blt sandwich, the chocolate mint covered regular size regular cream filling Oreos… I could go on and on. And on.
  • Lastly, Biden must be planning on buying everybody in the United States a brand new electric car along with a battery station at and for their house if he thinks that there will be no gas-running cars on the roads in the next 50 years or less. I like him; but i’m just sayin’.

If 2020 Had a Playlist

If 2020 was and/or had a playlist, here are the songs that I think would be a part of that list…

  • January: “Go Get It” by Mary Mary – why? because it’s a new year!
  • February: “Happy Valentine’s Day” by Andre 3000 – why? because I had no valentine
  • March: “Happy” by Pharrell Williams – why? because I got a new job
  • April: “It’s the End of World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine)” by REM – why? because of COVID and Trump
  • May: “Independent” by Webbie and “Changing Your Story” by Jekalyn Carr – why? because I signed the lease for an apartment and was into month 2 of my new job
  • June: “If He Did It Before/Same God” by Tye Tribbett – why? because a repeat biopsy came back with inconclusive results = no evidence of cancer cells
  • July: “The Whole World” by Outkast – why? because of the threat of me possibly having to leave my apartment and my job
  • August: “It’s Your Season” by Norman Hutchins – why? because of my birthday and me trying to feel optimistic in the moment
  • September: “All in His Plan” by PJ Morton featuring Le Andria and Mary Mary – why? because of having to press pause on life yet again to take care of my health
  • October: “I Made It Out Alright” by John P. Kee, “I Got Out” by Bryan Popin, and “Stand” by Donnie McClurkin – why? because I did the 2nd Car-T immunotherapy treatment in September and was finally able to go home
  • November: “What’s Going On?” by Marvin Gaye and “Loves in Need of Love Today” by Stevie Wonder – why? because it seemed like America was at a breaking point with all of the outward, external, clearly visible, tangible division and friction happening coast to coast
  • December: “There’s Hope” by India Arie and “Better” by Hezekiah Walker – why? because perception is everything and it’s [life] got to get better!! C’mon 2021, do better, be better!!

Lastly, my song for 2020…

Lessons Learned (2020 Edition)

What 2020 Has Taught and Shown Me…

  • How selfish some people can be and have been – like people still being unhygienic and Apple taking away the Charlie Brown classics from free network TV during a pandemic when some people might not be able to afford Apple’s monthly fee or have limited internet access to be able to watch it
  • How selfless some people can be and have been – like kids collecting toys to give away to other kids so that they will have a happy Christmas and the doctors and nurses who are working overtime and coming out of retirement to help with the pandemic
  • How divided America really is… still – even though most of what you see on TV, social media and out in general day-to-day public nowadays are interracial, multiracial couples, kids, and families living life together harmoniously
  • How much even the most introverted of people are struggling during this time of recommended, and in some places required, quarantine and isolation – where you would think that they, myself included, would love, thrive and relish in it; but just confirms the fact that we’re not designed or meant to be or live alone completely on our own with slim to none interaction with other people
  • How fearless and immortal some people seem to think that they are in the middle of a deadly, highly contagious virus outbreak
  • How much harder it is going to be able to date, find a mate during and post-COVID
  • How precious and missed something as simple as a hug and a smile have become; and should not have and will never be, or at least shouldn’t be, taken for granted ever again
  • How travel, especially by plane, will never be the same again – like how much it changed post-9/11
  • How I should have trained and went to school to become a NASA astronaut and requested to be on the 2020-2021 missions to space

That Cancer Girl

As I am currently in the middle of yet another treatment, I would like to take a moment to reflect…

Reading what I post and interacting with me offline, you may think that this cancer journey has been an “easy” one for me. Well, it hasn’t. I just choose not to share the negative aspects on social media or in conversations with others. Instead, I focus on the “positives” – because let’s be honest… who really wants to hear about the bad or difficult times?

So, I don’t.

I don’t share how anxious and nervous I get before every doctor’s appointment, even just regular check ups and blood work appointments.

I don’t share how terrified I am that I may not ever be cured of or from what should be and is known as being a curable disease.

And I especially don’t share how self conscious i’ve become about my looks and appearance with and after every treatment that I get, knowing full well that I am becoming less “picture perfect” than my pre-cancer picture perfect self.

I am well aware that I may be minimizing the daily struggles I and many other young adult cancer surthrivers like me face by not sharing about them. Maybe I should share more. But if I did, would anyone take the time to listen or read, though? Would they even care? Or would they just click the “X” or “Close this browser” while thinking, “oh great, not that cancer girl again”?

The World Needs to Act Like a VHS

… or at least like a CD or DVD.

What I mean is that I think that what really needs to happen right now is for everyone to just push the “pause” button and take a beat – even just a day, 24 hours, to collectively do absolutely nothing – don’t go to work, to school, the store, the doctors – nowhere. Don’t even think. Everything just shut down. And then hit the “reset” button and finish out the rest of 2020 with a renewed energy – refreshed and renewed, healthy (mentally and physically) with a collective agreement to finish out the rest of the year with everyone being intentional about being the best possible versions of themselves and making smart, logical, rational choices.

I myself don’t protest because i’m not entirely convinced that it’s the most effective way to bring about long term change. I of course don’t mean to say this to dis or disrespect anyone who does; but I know of a number of social change and social justice non-profits and organizations, there are probably hundreds, that are always looking for volunteers and members throughout the year that will join them to continue the fight for fairness and equality and that are being able to have or get a seat at the table with community, regional, and national leadership to fight for the cause and be heard and create change. These organizations are always looking for passionate people because there is strength in numbers; and the more people you have lessens the chance of burnout of the members who are already in there and out there on the frontlines. So my thinking is that if ALL of the people who are out there protesting in the streets will commit to joining at least 1 of these groups then that might be the key to getting that prime seat at the table with someone who has the power to actually do something thus implementing real, long lasting reform and change.

It really feels like nothing is safe right now – not your health, your livelihood, your state of mind, your wellbeing.

I would say that this coronavirus pandemic has certainly not helped matters either – at all.

And I know that asking the billions of people on this Earth to act like a VHS tape for 24 hours is asking for too much – but it’s a thought. The best one I got at the moment.

So I guess until that day when everyone will decide to give up – give up always having to be right, give up needing to be seen, give up selfish behavior, give up purposefully being unfair and unkind – I will just be sitting up in my room, praying and waiting to exhale…

… not really tho’ because the odds of that happening is slim to none and i’ve been down too long over these past 12 years that i’m tired of being in the cage and ready to get busy living! So for now I will just be the black female version of Where’s Waldo – you might see me, you might not, I might blend in with the crowd, I might stand out – but what I will be doing for sure is wearing a mask.

Delayed But Not Denied

[What I had started out my post for April with…]

So hello again world! Guess who has a j-o-b?! Me!

*insert burst of confetti*

But guess who has to wait 30+ days before she can begin because of the virus??

That’s right – it’s me again!

It’s alright though. I figure that since i’ve been waiting this long, what’s another 30+ days, right? The main thing is that i’m locked in and there’s a date to look forward to again. Hopefully this one won’t get changed again though – which in turn would mean that the virus is deflating.

Meanwhile my parents are driving me nuts being home all the time. I love them and know they mean well, but i’m used to having solitude for at least 7-8 hours a day and this covid has totally destroyed that and leaving me hanging on with just bits of my sanity left. Pre-quarantine, I think that the house is a pretty good size for the amount of people living here and now it definitely seems not big enough.

[Present day in May…]

Clearly the above was not posted in April because I forgot (lol) – so I have failed at 1 of my New Year’s resolutions – not even 6 months into the year!

*insert tune from The Price is Right when you lose*

It’s okay though because I was working remotely part time and scouting out apartments! I am still working remotely, but have been boosted to full time status!

It has been very interesting and quite challenging starting a new job at a new place of employment virtually. I feel like i’m treading water and/or doggie-paddling through most days – barely keeping my head above water. Not because the work or job itself is hard, but is difficult for me to learn how things are done at a new place without physically being there and shadowing someone. But thankfully everyone has been nice and kind and patient with me, so that’s been helpful. And working, even remotely, has put me one step closer to moving out – so ultimately I am at a place of thanks and gratefulness.

This coronavirus tho’ is straight up, flat out annoying and needs to hurry up and crawl back in the hole it came out of, never to be seen or heard from again. Ever!

Don’t Panic

I wonder why whenever someone says “don’t panic” or “don’t worry,” you – and i’m including myself here – will immediately start to panic or worry about whatever it is, even if you or I wasn’t even thinking about it before! Well welcome to the state of the world and America today! This coronavirus has everyone on edge and preparing for and acting like it’s doomsday or the end of the world or the apocalypse. I’m actually a bit happy that everyone is being so proactive and cautionary because over the years, I have noticed that people have progressively become UN-hygenic – – not properly washing their hands, not covering their noses or mouths when they cough or sneeze, not giving you proper personal space… now people are going out of their way not to be in public or be near you – – so as a cancer surthriver I am overjoyed that people are finally behaving, acting, and doing the things that they should’ve been doing from the start, pre-virus; and hopefully will continue doing once the virus has dissipated.

Surprisingly i’m not freaking out about the virus – maybe because i’ve had cancer. Maybe I should be more concerned than I am by me being immune-suppressed and having a compromised immune system; but I surprisingly feel a peace about it. I’ve had experience with self-quarantines… circa 2013 when I couldn’t go out for 180 days post stem cell transplant and then had to stay away from crowds for an additional 3-6 months after that! I kinda really feel like people are going overboard about all of this though. What the general public is failing to recognize is that it is possible to take precautions and recognize the seriousness without freaking out and buying everything at the nearest Walmart or Sam’s Club.

So fellow readers I ask of you to just be smart about it; and leave you with these verses of Scripture… Psalm 121:7-8: “The Lord will keep you from all harm. He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”

February the 14th

So I was given a suggestion to write a post about Valentine’s Day for February…

There’s really not too much that I have to say about that.

I’ve never stayed in a relationship long enough to experience a “true” or “real” V’Day. I either ended the relationship in January or started dating someone in March that didn’t last until the next Valentine’s Day. I admit and will agree with you that that is a terrible track record that I do genuinely hope to break one day; but I am definitely not one to stay in a relationship just for the sake of being in a relationship if there’s no connection and/or when I don’t see it going anywhere.

I do have hopes, dreams, and aspirations to get married one day. A preacher had actually prayed over me my Sophomore or Junior year in undergrad that whoever this guy is, that once we locked eyes we both would just know that we were meant for each other. So right now i’m just really waiting for him – whoever he is – to just show up one day with an “I’m the One” shirt on so that I know that it’s him and we proceed from there. Until then I will just continue to call Valentine’s Day by its date; and my February the 14ths will be filled with self care and self given teddy bears, chocolate covered strawberries, movies, faux flowers, and fake booze.

That’s all I really have to say about that.

Anyway, since it is February I will say “Happy Black History Month!” If you haven’t made it to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in DC, make plans to! It is life changing! And it will teach you WAY more than you have ever seen or been taught about black history in your entire life. If the museum ever decided to teach a course(s) about black history just from the information in the museum alone, I would be the first to sign up because i’m sure that I missed and didn’t completely digest most of what I saw while I was there simply because there’s just so much. And everything is so detailed.

So that is my Black History Month Public Service Announcement – get to the National Museum of African American History and Culture if you haven’t already; and if anyone starts a petition or request for the museum to at least do online courses about black history please let me know.

Endnote: fake booze = mocktails, sparkling cider, sparkling grape juice, church homecoming punch