For Matt. For Sara. For Manny. For Pop. For Nana. For every person who didn't get as lucky as me, and every person who got as unlucky as me.
Hello again, friends and family!!!!! That time of year has come around, and again I must apologize in advance for the ridiculously long post here. If you want to skip to the end—go ahead! Click that link and donate!!!! Thank you so, so, SO much for your incredible support of this absolutely fantastic cause. But I do feel like if I’m going to ask of something from you, I should be giving something of me, so here it goes.
For anyone who is a few episodes behind on my life, seasons middle through high school were mostly set in a hospital room. At eleven years old, I was diagnosed with the bone cancer osteosarcoma, and I would not receive my last treatment until I was fourteen. When I was younger, and more naïve, and had a very kind subconscious that prevented me from taking two seconds to google my survival statistics of virtually zero, that was the worst part. Those years spent in a sterile, grey, cold cubicle were the darkest of my life.
I could try to explain that to you. I could try to explain how chemo feels like someone hit you with a truck while you have the flu, or like your blood and brain are turning to lead while your stomach is turning into a hurricane. I could try to explain how much worse that feels knowing that the moment you start to feel any better you’ll have to come back and do it again, and again, and again, for months and years until something dies—either you or that cancer. I could try to explain to you how it feels to not be able to breathe, or walk, or think a single coherent thought through the ocean of medications you’re taking. I could try to explain what it means to be in so much pain that you don’t really want to be dead, but all you can think is God, that would be so much easier.
I could try to explain that. But I won’t. Honestly, I don’t even remember the extent of it. Whatever scale measures “horrifying” sort of breaks down when most of your life is a nightmare. I don’t think I can explain it, and if I could I don’t think I’d want to. Sometimes it makes me feel lonely, to think how few people understand this part of me. But mostly I am glad, and grateful, and overwhelmingly relieved that the people I care about cannot really sympathize.
But many of the people I care about suffered in other ways, ways that I did not. They lived with a fear, and a grief, that I did not understand. It seems dark, but sometimes I think I’m lucky I was young. In some ways young means resilient, but luckily for me, young also means stupid. I knew the road I was taking was hell. I was old enough to understand it, and to hate it.
But I never questioned where it was going. I never believed I was going down a dead end. It never really occurred to me that after all of this, after all I was put through—I probably wouldn’t get to live anyway.
It didn’t occur to me that I would die.
Something I also don’t think I can explain, but I wish desperately to, is how this weight feels heavier than all the others combined. It’s not that I think what I went through, or even still go through, is small, but what about the rest? What about all of those who live that hell, and still don’t get to live anyway? How can I call all I went through unfair, when afterwards I got the chance to live, to get up and move on and choose to do whatever wonderful or stupid or kind or meaningless or important things I feel I’m meant to? What about every person who was owed the same chance I got, who also deserved a whole life of love and experience and living ahead of them?
How can I not feel I owe them something?
I was really unlucky to be diagnosed. Three in a million unlucky. But I was unbelievably lucky live after that. Maybe (definitely) because of that, I feel I have to take that life and do whatever I can to make sure more and more people get the same ending.
I am so grateful to have joined a community so warm and giving of their time and funds and talents, to have found the support and structure of an organization as wonderful as Wake N’ Shake, which raises incredible amounts of money for the cause that is perhaps closest to my heart. I am so proud of each and every one of my fellow dancers, my friends, survivors, and my co-executives for everything they have brought to this event. I am here to ask you to bring something too.
If you have made it to the end of this, I already salute your strength and morale for fighting the abbreviated attention span the internet has given all of us. But if you have, I do hope it meant something to you, and that I didn’t waste all this time I should have been studying for cell bio crying over my laptop. If you can, please please please click the link below to donate whatever you can. Every bit really does help. I cannot thank you enough, or tell you how much it means to me personally. And I really cannot tell you what it will mean to someone else someday, who won’t be able to thank you or know you by name, but will know that whoever you are, they got to live because of you.
Thank you so much to every single one of you for donating or sharing or even just reading. I feel incredibly blessed to have had the chance to reach and know all of you. Very much love
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