Early on I heard the advice: “Don’t let the cancer become your identity.”
At the time I thought, How ridiculous! I have a million things that I regard as more important and interesting that this silly disease. Why would I make it my identity?
Some identities are thrust upon me. I did not choose this, but I have to carry it. And it’s an immersive experience. It seems every part of my body and mind, as well as major parts of my schedule are consumed with grappling with this hated disease.
It’s a long army crawl to get to the other parts of my identity.
Is there enough left to cover the scraps of my denuded self? What dignity can I scrape together in this time?
Writing is a big part of my identity. Writing and sharing it. The sharing gives the writing a different quality.
I thought of two different things to write and then hated both of them.
Then I realized I could be honest. How I hate writing about this cancer AGAIN. But that I am deep in it and can only describe the many many trees in I am encountering. I know it’s a forest
I keep hearing it’s a forest. And I believe I will get to the end of this forest.
I have to see a lot of trees before I get there.
Other parts—the WAYYY more interesting parts—of my identity are on mute. They are there and I’d love to let then roar forward.
Maybe I’ll find a way. Or maybe I have to get through more of the forest.
I cannot give in to frustration or resentment. I have to far to go. Maybe This is a new part of my identity that I’m growing into. Not as “cancer victim” or even the more palatable “cancer survivor.” But as the person who can go through a long fight. This is my campaign…my battle line. That’s the identity I’m putting on. A way will be found, and I will find it. It will take time.