If life is a bingo game, I wish the bingo caller would stop calling out the angry ball.
I’m angry at the way the world is working.
I’m angry at myself for a million reasons.
I’m angry that I get so angry at myself.
I’m angry that I’ve wasted time on that anger.
I’m angry for expressing my anger, when it seems like there should and could have been another avenue for me to drive down.
I would love to wake up, splash water on my face, make myself a pot of coffee and feel delighted. When’s the last time you heard someone say “I’m delighted”? That would be delightful; an earnest contentment that sounds effortless but seems like so much hard work to achieve on most days. I would love to meet someone and be in awe of them and as they walk away, think out loud to myself “they are just a delight”.
If life is a bingo game and it feels like the bingo caller is calling out “miserable” all the time, maybe it is time to quit that job.
I would love to win a bingo game just once. The momentary rush of excitement. Quickly exclaiming BINGO!!! before someone beats me to it. Holy shit, that would just be a delight.
– Steve Heaviside
How would you respond to the writing prompt, the bingo emotions?
This writing comes directly from one of our participants in our Unspoken Ink Creative Writing Group for young adult cancer survivors. The participants met for 2 hours each week, for 8 weeks during our Spring 2020 session. This writing has not been edited since its original creation, showing the wonderfully raw and powerful prose coming from the courageous writing group participants each week. If you’d like to sign up for future sessions, please email email@example.com or sign up on our interest form.
When I was first diagnosed, I turned to my husband and told him I didn’t think I was strong enough to make it through something so monumentally difficult. I didn’t think I had the strength to carry on and the hope necessary to face my own mortality. It turns out I couldn’t have been more wrong… I am stronger than I knew!
If you’ve followed my blog from the beginning you have seen my reflections on personal growth and how I have used this journey as an opportunity to learn more about myself and grow as an individual, a friend and a partner. The insecure woman living in fear who existed prior to cancer is gone. Cancer helped me find the power and self love within that I needed to make this life my own and live each day with purpose and happiness.
When I woke up today, the power of my growth and strength stopped me in my tracks. I was overcome by emotion. After everything I have been through, I cling to these emotions. They serve as proof of my journey — the reward at the end of the tunnel. I made it through a year filled with pain, struggle and heartbreak. Though I am far from unscathed, the strength and confidence I have gained is a priceless gift. I now believe that I am worthy of everything that life has to offer. No matter what my future holds and what challenges I must face, I know without a doubt that I am strong enough to survive and thrive!
The tattoo I got today represents all of this power I feel. I am stronger than I ever knew and I will continue to move forward, one day at a time. My story is not finished and I have so many more pages to add. I hope that my story will inspire you to live your life in the same way. Grateful for every moment and appreciative of your inner beauty and strength. Never underestimate yourself. You are stronger, braver and more beautiful than you ever knew.
After one cycle of IVF, egg retrieval and preservation, 6 rounds of chemo, and 2 surgeries I thought I was done missing out on all the fun. Turns out I was wrong once again. It’s like a sick trick. Each day of your fight, you use the end of treatment as your goal post, your milestone for success and completion. But once you get there, you realize that the end of treatment is only a rest stop in your never ending battle. A milestone worth celebrating for sure, but far from the end.
Many people don’t understand this. They think the end of chemotherapy or radiation marks the end of your fight. I can’t fault them for this misconception because a year and a half ago I too was uninformed. Unfortunately, this is one of the biggest misconceptions surrounding a cancer diagnosis — life after cancer and what it’s really like. Hormone blocking therapy, regular doctor’s visits and reconstructive surgeries and revisions will continue to be my reality for many months and years to come. I’m looking at 5-10 more years of maintenance treatment, all of which has everyday impacts on my life. Joint pain that limits the use of my thumb and dominate hand, hot flashes that keep me up at night, weight gain that impacts my self-esteem, and a plethora of other menopausal symptoms that impact my body from head to toe. So life is far from normal for me.
Despite the ongoing symptoms and struggles, I did what most survivors do post-treatment. I decided to make the most of this life I have to live. Cancer was a wakeup call to live in the moment and enjoy the things in my life that continue to bring me joy. I threw myself back into work, exercise, and my friendships. I took advantage of every opportunity to share my story and work on breast advocacy and awareness in my community. For the past 8 months since my last major surgery, my life has been a pretty amazing whirlwind. I received a promotion at work, grew my blog to new levels, traveled to Europe, collaborated with amazing organizations to spread awareness about young women with breast cancer and started the first Raleigh Young Women’s Breast Cancer Support Group. I even walked the runway in a World of Pink Fashion Show helping raise over $20,000 for women battling breast cancer in Long Island, NY.
The more I invested of myself into these amazing causes, the more projects I took on, I began to hear a little voice in the back of my head warning me to slow down. I knew I needed to rest, take a breath, but things were moving so quickly and I didn’t want to miss out on a single opportunity. I’d spent enough time missing out while I was sick, this was my time to live! I wanted to help every young woman who came into my life and wanted to make a difference in the fight again breast cancer.
And then the flu hit. Now some of you may be thinking It’s just the flu what’s the big deal. A few days off work, a few days in bed and you’ll be back to normal… but for me this was like treatment all over again. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at its best. As I sat in the bathroom hugging the toilet, heaving, the chemo nightmares returned. The fear that I would never get better, and that everyone would move on without me took over my psyche. The fear of never recovering from this stage of physical misery snaked through my veins.
Though, a sane person like myself can differentiate the flu from chemo, the symptoms are actually quite similar and you can imagine how the memories flooded back like a song triggering long lost emotions. While reliving the worst days after chemo (and the dreaded Nuelasta shots), what I remembered the most was this sadness of feeling left out — forgotten. I was fearful and uncomfortable missing out on all the fun and the normal stuff. Sick in bed fighting for my life, while friends, family, and coworkers went about their days enjoying the everyday moments and adventures that life has to offer. I remember feeling alone in these emotions, selfish and confused.
Though almost a year of recovery and life beyond breast cancer has given me a sense of growth and perspective I can appreciate, I share these feelings today to let other women know that you are not alone. I share these feeling to remind you that the fight does not end on your final chemo day, or your final surgery day. When your physical battle wanes, your mental battle begins. You may want to make up for lost time, still fearful of missing out on the moments you used to take for granted. But, it is enough to just live! Sometimes I forget this trying to jump back into the full speed race I was in before. But I can’t maintain that pace. I had to get sick again to remind me to slow down, remind me yet again that I am not invincible and I have to take care of my body. In order to do this, I have to create a new path. One filled with balance, self-care, and gratitude. I may miss out things my friends, colleagues, and family will experience but I just have to believe that better things will be waiting for me around the next bend. Here’s to my new journey, my new path, and may it be a very long one!