Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Vitality, Energy, Spirit

I've recently had a new and unexpected experience in Los Angeles: that of a cancer patient.  Here's what I learned: people get cancer.  Even if they're pursuing their dreams.

Over the years, I've thought about cancer a lot, actually.  I've made adjustments in my diet and purchasing habits to prevent it.  I've exercised a lot and chosen foods high in anti-oxidants.  Yet, I think I always assumed the main reason I wouldn't get cancer is that I'm ambitious.  As if bad things only happen to the idle.  This was not a conscious thought, it's something I've realized retrospectively.  But when I was diagnosed, I threw my career-oriented ambition out the window.  All I could consider working toward were cancer-free cells.

I'm now post-operative, and will go through radiation some time this summer.  I have a scar on my neck from the thyroidectomy, and I have to keep it out of the sun.  I used to scoff at women who wear scarves in the summer.  No longer.   My family has a history of melanoma, and now that "cancer prevention" has a much deeper meaning for me, I intend to stay out of the sun entirely.  This is difficult, because I love the sun.  I've arranged my life to have a closer relationship to the sun; that is, I moved to LA so that I'd always be in it.  This year, my trips to the beach will look a little bit different than in the past.  I'm scoping out umbrellas and tents with good ventilation.  I'm shopping for cute cover-ups, and researching non-toxic sunscreens.  I'm devoting myself with a renewed vitality to good health.

I've also allowed ambition to enter my being again.  It was difficult, I'll admit.  The first two weeks of recovery caused me to re-evaluate my goals, to question whether they are worthwhile, achievable, and propitious.  It is now three and a half weeks since surgery, and I chalk my uncertainty up to morphine and codeine.  Now that I am recovered and my energy has grown, I'm once again working toward my goals with the expectation of success.

People get cancer.  And then they beat it.  Even in Hollywood.

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