Brain Cancer and Beyond, part 5

Post by Jamie Buchanan for the Kind Kindred series.

Cancer changes your life, often for the better. You learn what’s important, you learn to prioritize, and you learn not to waste your time. You tell people you love them…Gilda Radner used to say ‘If it wasn’t for the downside, cancer would be the best thing and everyone would want it.’ That’s true. If it wasn’t for the downside.
-Joel Siegel


Part 5: Loss of Self

Click HERE for Part 1
Click HERE for Part 2
Click HERE for Part 3
Click HERE for Part 4

Due to these conditions, my body and appearance have changed in ways that have made me unrecognizable to those who knew me prior to my original illness. The pain I endure on a daily basis has made it too difficult to maintain a job. However, although I cannot work at a full-time job, I never stop working on self-care and self-improvement. I always keep myself busy by taking on side-jobs – babysitting or creating inspirational art. Although my illness has prevented me from doing “A,” I have the power to allow it from preventing me to do B-Z, and I refuse to give it the power to run my life. That is why I was so determined as I pushed myself through college and beyond.

Before my illness, I was an enthusiastic volunteer, featured in Seventeen Magazine for my fundraising efforts. I was an active member of the Norwalk Rowing Team, I loved tennis, horseback riding and running. Although I can no longer partake in these activities due to a lack of overall strength in my body, my illness has literally demanded me to appreciate life in an entirely new light. I do not let my inabilities prevent me from enjoying life. I have learned to enjoy what it has to offer differently. For example, since I cannot walk too far, I still enjoy nature by sitting on benches and simply appreciating its beauty, or by taking photographs, drawing and painting. Equally important, my illness has allowed me to become more observant and appreciative. My heart and soul coincide with John Burroughs who once harmonized, “I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.” (Burroughs). Yes, my conditions have robbed me of my aspirations, my future and my independence. They might force me to overcome the social stigma of using a cane at a young age. They might prevent me from creating fine detailed art. But my chronic conditions do not shatter hope. Overcoming challenges, for me, has meant accepting new circumstances; sometimes even a new lifestyle.

I am a passionate optimist committed to helping others improve themselves. 
I have been tested to my core and have overcome against all the odds. 
I will be a beacon, an activist, and an advocate for those who feel they cannot do it for themselves.



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