May is brain cancer awareness month. I allowed May, 2015 to come and go without posting anything brain cancer related on social media, without wearing gray clothing, essentially, without overtly raising awareness. I did, however, place on my wrist, the two brain cancer wristbands which have been hiding in my drawer. I decided it’s time for me to raise my own awareness inside myself.
More than once in the past two years, I have accused family members and friends of being in denial of the disease which has afflicted my son and which has collaterally affected my entire family. I have rationalized that a certain amount of denial is necessary to prepare oneself for the fight which brain cancer requires. I have justified actions of myself and others by believing that acceptance of this disease and its potential progression is far too difficult to take in all at one time. I have told myself over and over that these feelings will pass and emotionally we will heal.
For the first few months after Kevin was diagnosed, I found myself on auto-pilot. Going where doctors instructed us to go, making certain Kevin got his medication, got to his treatment on time, watching for signs of seizure activity, preparing meals in a timely manner to coincide with his chemo, managing his appointments, taking notes and asking questions of the doctors so Kevin could concentrate on the one and only task he needs to concentrate on-feeling better, staying strong, being as healthy as possible and living life to its fullest.
There is a fine distinction between living in denial and simply not allowing a cancer diagnosis to define you. I have always considered myself a realist. I have learned there is a fine distinction between realistically understanding something on an intellectual level and actually accepting it as something one must truly acknowledge as a certainty. Two years ago, my biggest concerns were the awful Denver traffic, what to make for dinner, making the wrong decision about the highlights in my hair. Is it possible to age twenty years in the span of only two? Stress is a peculiar phenomenon. It creeps up on us and surprises us with its veracity. It attacks when we least expect and in ways we didn’t know were possible. Some lessons are learned the hard way.
May, 2015-Brain Cancer Awareness Month. I took this time to reflect on what it means to have a family member with this diagnosis. What it means to everyone involved, because the big C worms its way into the lives of everyone who loves the patient who’s been diagnosed, and everyone who loves those people as well. I look down at my arm, wearing the grey and black wristbands, and allow the awareness to sink in. I look at the calendar because I am now aware the first Sunday in June is National Cancer Survivor Day. It’s a day of celebration for survivors and inspiration to numerous others. I think of the many people I have connected with in this small but relevant brain cancer community-people of all ages, people from all over the U.S. and other countries. I forgive myself for allowing the denial to settle in me, all the while consciously believing I had reached an acceptance. I had not and I have not. But I understand that now. On June 7, the first Sunday in June, I chose to celebrate life. I made a promise to myself. I will take my own physical and mental health seriously. I will make it a priority. I will seek the spiritual knowledge which will allow me to live in today. I will continue to hope and pray for a cure.