Emotional Scramble with a Side of Bacon

OK I had you with bacon, right? Well, everything IS better with bacon! I attended my second local Thyroid Cancer Survivors (Thyca) meeting a few nights ago. One might think that a cancer support group would be innately depressing, but the mood is surprisingly cheerful. Though the discussion topics are undoubtedly morbid, the attendees are jovial, even funny. It’s an odd feeling to be chuckling at someone’s mis-diagnosis leading to their thyroid cancer spreading to their spine or that two of the attendees were hypothyroid at the meeting (enjoying the low-iodine snacks of apple and honey sticks). Even though nothing was intrinsically funny, we all laughed together and shared our stories as if we were amongst old friends catching up with one another.

I left the meeting feeling like I had just been through an emotional Cuisinart. I couldn’t tell if I felt better or worse, more hopeful or more worried, more informed or more lost. It was just kind of “more everything”. All of this emotional energy was energizing. I felt like I wanted to speed home with the radio blaring, do something crazy like stop at club and dance on the bar. (FYI, I only sped…a little).

Someone quoted in a blog I read somewhere, Lance Armstrong (the Dahli Lama of cancer survivors) as saying, “Cancer makes you reckless.” And now you’ve read it here, so by virtue of the laws of internet gossip, it must be true! OK so I’m not sure if Lance really said that, or what the context of it was if he did, but I do think it’s true. It might seem counter-intuitive at first, but it is because cancer puts into perspective what is really important to you, and you might find that what is really important is having fun.

I may be standing alone here, but growing up I often thought about what I would do if I knew I was going to die soon. What to do wasn’t really the hard part, but what to do first! Should I quit my job that day? Travel? Shop? Eat cake and ice cream for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? If I were a character in a Lifetime Original Series (seemingly at least half of which face a life-threatening illness or entrapment), I would come to discover that what was REALLY important to me was my family, my friends, being a wonderful kind soul, and leaving a positive mark on the world. And those things are important of course, but they require a certain level of investment. But if you knew you were never going to reap the benefits of that investment, why would you invest? Why not be reckless and just live in the moment? Certainly the bad kids have more fun!

But what if it’s more of a grey area? Of course everyone would want to pull an “Office Space” at work. But you have to be cautious – you might and probably will need those investments, the people who love you, your job, your plain old ordinary “going to live 100 years” life. You have to keep planning and carrying on. You have to keep investing even though your soul is telling you to play hookie at work and instead go on a shopping spree. So if you see me throwing down ANOTHER ice cream sundae, please stop me because I’m pretty sure I don’t want that on my hips for a lifetime!

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