The Time I Almost Got Cancer

Disclaimer: this story has a happy ending, so don’t worry. It’ll be okay.

Once upon a time (actually the time was a few days before Thanksgiving break), I was chatting with a friend in my room. For some unfathomable reason, I decided to touch my back. “Huh, this feels like blood.”  Sure enough, it is blood. My mole is bleeding. So I get a paper towel and stop the bleeding and continue chatting. But I decide to google bleeding mole, because you always want to find out if you’re dying even when one tiny thing is wrong with you. And the google homepage is covered in “melanoma.” Okay. That puts a damper on things. It’s not like, “Oh you have a headache, and that could just be a headache or twenty million other things, including some rare disease that no one’s heard of.” We’ve all fallen prey to WebMD scare. But this was different. It seemed like this cancer could actually be real.

So I get home for break and call the dermatologist to get my mole looked at. Because I’m only home from college for a week, I don’t have time to see her that break. My appointment is scheduled for the 20th of December. That day rolls around, and I get a call that the dermatologist has a personal emergency or something, so I have to reschedule to the 13th of January. The day before I take a train ride back to Williamsburg. That day rolls around, and they see me, and the mole is just slightly concerning, so they take a biopsy (luckily I could get it that day). And then I go back to school, knowing that I don’t definitely know that I don’t have cancer (sorry for those of you who hate double negatives; this was just the most accurate way to say this) and that I should hear back in a week.

A week rolls around, and I call them. They haven’t gotten my results. I’m anxious and distracted, so I try to distract myself as much as possible, and that sort of works.

And then the snow comes. And in Northern Virginia, there was a ton of snow. So naturally, their office is closed that Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

Now it’s Tuesday, and I call them. They have my results, but they need to be processed. Tuesday was my worst day. Tuesday was the day that I realized that I didn’t really know how to deal with this, that I needed to actually tell people that “cancer” could become a familiar word on my lips. I hadn’t told people because I didn’t want to make it a problem, but by doing so, I made it even more of a problem. Tuesday was rough.

And then it’s Wednesday, and I call and leave a message. I’ve memorized my story by this point. It’s also officially been two weeks since I had my biopsy, and I’m more annoyed than anxious (though I’m still anxious) at this point. I just want to know.

Thursday rolls around, and I call them. They have my results, but apparently the person I’m talking to can’t view them, so I should get a call by the end of the day or first thing the next day.

It’s Friday. I do not get a call first thing in the morning. I call around 10:30. Again, the person I’m talking to can’t read my results. But she puts me on hold and gets them. It’s a normal mole. Everything is fine. I hang up, and the tears come. I wasn’t expecting to cry at finding out I don’t have cancer, but that’s what happened.

Yay! Happy endings! Yay for finally knowing what’s happening with my body after two months of having a question mark hanging over my head! It was a wild, anxiety-ridden ride. And as awful as it was, I did get some good things out of it.

Well, mostly just one good thing. This experience was a twisted mirror that really showed me how I don’t handle painful things well, how not telling people things hurts me. And even the people I did tell I didn’t allow to see me when I was actually anxious, either because talking to people made me think of it less or because I was repressing emotions that much. So I need to work on the sharing department. And I feel like a hypocrite because I’ve definitely written about being vulnerable with people, but I’m so bad at it. I think I’ve gotten better at being vulnerable, both with my friends and on this blog. I really learned that I need to be okay with showing people that I’m weak and allowing myself to actually feel things instead of pretending my own feelings don’t exist.

So let me tell you (while I tell myself this): it’s okay to feel things. They may feel ugly, but

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I’m done with walking on eggshells. Photo credit: Tara Meeks.

your feelings are valid, regardless of what you’re going through. You may say, “But hey, I’m just stressed about my grades. I don’t have a life-changing disease. I shouldn’t feel this bad!” And you know, it is important to have perspective, especially if you’re just putting yourself in a bad mood and throwing yourself a constant pity party. Sometimes you do just need to get over yourself (trust me, I’ve been there). But it’s okay to feel sad or angry or hopeless or confused, even when you know other people have it worse. Your experience, your feelings are legitimate. And it really is good to be vulnerable with people. Every time I am, I’m so glad I did, even though I fight against it tremendously. Vulnerability breaks down the barriers we put between us and other people. It leads the way to let us be our genuine selves.

I’ve been thinking about what I’m trying to accomplish with this blog. And maybe the only thing I can do on this blog is bring up difficult subjects so that we can all talk about them more, or maybe it’ll just be talking to the air. But I will be that person. So this is the story of when I was afraid I had cancer.

Epylle Spydre

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Song for the Sorrowful

Guys, I’m really excited. So because my school is awesome, this summer I was paid to spend 20 days reading and writing388634_312874848724131_1928943340_n poetry. Yes, I was paid to do this. How cool is that? Anyway, each day, I had a different poet. I would read their biography and a good number of their poetry, and then I wrote my own poetry as a response to what I had read. This is what I did at the beginning of the summer. Then I went on vacation/a mission trip, and since I came back, I have been editing the poems that I feel are worth it to actually make better. My intention from the beginning was to use these to fuel blog posts (so if I post poetry randomly in the next few months, know that this is where they came from). And now I am finally doing that!

This poem I wrote close to the end of the 20 days on the day I studied Sylvia Plath. I was actually pretty frustrated because I had had a difficult time writing very inspired pieces that day, but then the opening lines of this poem just came to me. So that’s pretty cool. It’s not my best poem, but I felt like it was ready for the blog. So yeah, I hope you all get something out of this.

Song for the Sorrowful

Speak to me of joyful things;
Let sadness take its leave.
Sing to me a lullaby,
And darling, please don’t grieve.

Your heart was made for more than this;
I know this much is true.
You only see your brokenness,
But I’ve seen deeper in you.

Your eyes are made of joy,
Your smile is made of love,
Your hands are raw, pure gentleness,
And your heart is a gift from above.

I know that it’s not easy
To break off the bonds of fear,
But in your endless trying,
Don’t forget that I am here.

You were not made to go it alone;
Let your brothers and sisters aid.
You’ve helped us all throughout your pain,
Now finally, be repaid.

Don’t let sorrows storm your soul;
You will get through this strife.
You have a place upon this earth.
There is purpose for your life.

3 Days, 3 Challenges Quote 1: Mother Teresa Teaches About Love and Pain

Well, I missed the blog’s 3rd birthday ’cause I was in Turkey, so happy belated three years, everyone!

Anyways, this post is actually a response to my first blog challenge! So exciting! On to business and fewer exclamation marks now…

A Cool Glass of Lemonade has been nominated to participate in the  3 Days, 3 Quotes challenge by Carly of The Daily Geekette. Thank you Carly for the nomination!

The rules of the challenge are as follows:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Post a quote for three consecutive days (one quote per day).
  3. Nominate three new bloggers each day.

I’m going to start with my favorite quote, spoken by the inspirational Mother Teresa. It’s actually really hard to pick a favorite quote by her, because she has so many excellent quotes. Anyways, here goes:

“I have found the paradox: that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”
~ Mother Teresa

I feel like I shouldn’t even write anymore because nothing I can say will be as beautiful, simple, or pure as what she said, but I guess I will try to write some. I learned of this from a friend who knew that I liked quotes. It’s actually funny because the first time I heard this, I didn’t like it that much. It didn’t seem that profound or interesting to me. But I always kept it in the back of my mind, and as I grew older, I learned to see and appreciate the wisdom in it.

heart 1As we grow up, our idea of love changes. At first, it’s just a pretty red heart, a valentine. Its shape is always symmetrical and smooth. It’s pointy on one end, but it’s not painful or ugly in any way. It’s just pretty and dependable and fun to doodle.

heart 2

Then we get older, and we learn that hearts don’t look like that at all. Hearts are for pumping blood and getting oxygen to different parts of our bodies. Hearts are so vital to life. And it’s interesting that that is what we use as the symbol and language of love. We say:
“I love you with all of my heart.”
“My heart has been broken.”

We talk about love using the language of this gross-looking organ that we need to live. It’s not pretty. It doesn’t always work correctly. It can cause pain. And so does love.

Love quite simply, isn’t always beautiful. Real love is the stuff of life, and real life is painful. The act of loving itself causes pain. If we didn’t love, we wouldn’t care enough to feel hurt. That’s why I’ve always adored books and movies that make my cry: because I knew that if I cried, then that means it meant something to me. Tears are like my test to see if it was really that good or not. If we love so much that it hurts, then it’s real love, and real love will always win over the hurt.

Anyway, I wrote more than I thought I would. Thanks for reading!

I nominate:

Cheers!

Being Okay with “Okay”

I once asked a friend how her day was, and she said, “It was pretty okay.” I, being used to hearing “okay” with a somewhat negative connotation then said, “I hope your day becomes stellar.” And then she said this: “Thanks, but given the circumstances of the rest of the world, pretty okay is just fine by me.”

And that small statement shocked me. When we’re sad or depressed or hungry, a lot of times, we like to remind ourselves of the rest of the world and think of how blessed we are. We say #firstworldproblems and try to laugh it off. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t. Very rarely do we say that when we’re just okay. Just okay is boring. It means nothing special happened; you could have had a fantastic day, or you could have had a terrible day. But just okay? What’s up with that? We like action; we like it when something happens, even if it’s not exactly what we wanted. On okay days, we say, “I may not be having a bad day, but I deserve better.”

“Okay is just fine by me” is a beautiful thing to say. It is the epitome of contentment. And I’ve already written several posts on contentment, so I’m not going to restate myself (the best one is here). And it really comes back to the fact that happiness is a state of well-being and not a feeling. Your life doesn’t have to be great for you to be happy. We don’t have to have a stellar day to be happy. We just need to be okay with being okay. Or maybe being okay when we’re depressed and sad and feeling under the weather.

And another thing, when we’re sad, I think a lot of times we like to blame ourselves. Sure, we blame other people for the circumstances that put us into that place. But then we say, “Why can’t I get out of this? I should be stronger than this. Happiness is only a step away, why can’t I get to it?” We feel guilty because we do think about all the other people who are hurting worse than us, and that makes us feel like weak, superficial jerks. It’s okay to hurt. It’s okay to be in pain. It’s okay to be angry. It happens to all of us, and just because you can’t make yourself happy doesn’t mean you’re weak. It’s when that pain stays in your life, becoming your cloud of depression and bitterness that it becomes unhealthy. I’m not really the person to say exactly how to get out of that place, but what I really wanted to stress is that it’s okay to be in pain.

It’s okay to have amazing days; don’t feel like you stole it from someone else. It’s okay to be in pain; it’s not your fault. And it’s okay to be okay; that’s contentment. 

Epylle Spydre

p.s. Don’t be this light covered in ice. Let your light shine, okay or not!
(I wrote “okay” so many times in this post, it’s beginning to look funny…Woops!)

Image

photo credits to my loverly sister 🙂

Be a Butterfly. Or a Cup, Whichever Makes You Happier…

ImageThis teacup reminds me of people. Yup. People. Because when I saw this cup, I said, “Oh goodness, that could break in a heartbeat.” It’s fragile and fleeting. Just like us. But instead of talking about how fragile life is the way I’ve done before, I want to talk about how fragile the heart is. 

Isn’t it crazy what we do? We entrust ourselves to other people, showing them the deepest secrets of our hearts. We give them a piece of our soul, trusting that they won’t dash it to pieces. And some get away with this maneuver without any scratches, but the vast, vast majority of people get chipped.

Even if that person doesn’t break your heart, they will still disappoint you. It’s a fact of life. We fail. All the time. So if you think of your heart as the little cup I have above, as you go through life, it accumulates scratches, little imperfections that affect who you are and who you become. 

So you could try to hide yourself in your closet and escape all the hurt that you know you will face if you venture into the world. You could promise yourself that you would never trust another human soul again. But I think that sounds really boring. And just plain sad. We are loving creatures. We were made to be in communion with other people, as painful as that can sometimes be. 

And besides all that, without pain, we can never experience the most beautiful joys either. It’s a risk that we have to take, but the fact that we risk something makes the reward all the more fulfilling. 

The other analogy I have here is that of a butterfly. How many of us have heard that we’re never supposed to touch a butterfly’s wings because if we hurt one of the scales, it will kill the butterfly? Now, I have no idea of the scientific accuracy of that statement, but the fact still remains that butterflies are fragile. But they are beautiful. Trusting people puts you in that vulnerable place. And yes, they could hurt you, and many do. But it’s still beautiful. 

Epylle Spydre

 

p.s. Photo credits to my sister, who has a blog too! http://thelifeofpictures.wordpress.com/

The Hurt and the Healer

I told you I would write a legitimate post later today, so here I am!

If you are friends with me on facebook, you probably know that I’ve been asking people for topics to blog about. I want to blog about stuff that people want to read, so it makes sense for me to ask this, yes? I think so, too. Yesterday, I got key lime pie, and today, I have a couple things, including infant and mother mortality rates in the US despite our large health care systems.

I could bore you with numbers, but I recently read a book called Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath. It was an interesting book and one of the things that I learned from it was that numbers make people put their analyzing hat on instead of their empathizing hat. So, if I want to make you care about infants and mothers that are dying, I’m not going to tell you how many infants out of 1,000 will die in a year but I am instead going to give you a picture.

You and your best friend like to do everything together, including getting pregnant at the same time. You’re so excited about the future, because you’re sure that your kids will be the best of friends, just like you guys are. Your dream is beautiful, and it most definitely ends with “And they all lived happily ever after.” Finally, the days are drawing closer, and you go into labor before your friend. On the other end of all the pain, blood, and tears that I’ve heard accompany births—haven’t actually experienced this myself, as I am only 16—is a beautiful baby boy. With big, blue eyes and a smile that would warm even Voldemort’s heart, he is all you could ever dream of having. You are so excited to see your friend, who must have gone into labor by now, when your husband comes into tell you something: your friend lost the baby. The doctors tried all they could, but they couldn’t save the baby.

It’s unfair, isn’t it? Even though “you” didn’t have the baby, you can sense the injustice of this situation. One friend comes out of the hospital with a bouncing, smiling, laughing, extremely happy baby, and the other leaves with only tears and a broken heart. You really wish she could have a baby too, but you can’t change anything now. What happened to “happily ever after”?

(By the way, this story is completely made up from my imagination and doesn’t represent any statistics, although it’s probably happened before.)

So. Our illustrious health system can’t save the babies. Not that all infants die, that would be really awful, and there would be a whole lot more people blogging about it. But we aren’t as strong as we hoped we were, as a country, that is.

Personally, I’m just thankful that we have a God that saves and heals and works miracles every day. There are so many hurting people out there. I just watched “The Dark Knight”, the second movie in the Batman trilogy, last night. Two-Face is in so much pain, he’s so bitter, and he’s just trying to make himself feel better. Now I haven’t watched “The Dark Knight Rises” yet (yes, it’s on my to-do list), but I have this feeling that Two-Face will just continue being bitter, and nothing will be able to truly heal his heart. It’s like in The Tale of Despereaux, where they talk about how broken hearts never come back quite right.

But God sees our hurts and pains. God wants to bring us to His side and heal our aching hearts and bodies. And when we are in pain, God isn’t punishing us, the way we tend to think. As the song goes, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. Sometimes pain is just here so that we can be tested and remember who the Healer is.

Epylle Spydre

p.s. I got the title name from MercyMe’s song, “The Hurt and the Healer”. I tried several times to put a video on here, but it didn’t work. But you should still listen to it, ’cause it’s a great song!