Monday, October 29, 2012

#86: The Grass Isn't Greener

A friend once asked me whether I felt angry after my diagnosis. I had to pause and think before finally answering, yes. That was probably the emotion I felt most. I was angry, resentful, and bitter. And I was envious of everyone who was cancer-free.

My envy focused on one friend in particular who, at the time, was travelling the world. She was everything I wished I could be and I looked up to her. As a result, she quickly became the symbol of everything I didn't have. 

A philosophy professor once explained to our fourth year, undergraduate class the limits in defining our identity. An "able-bodied" person could also be seen as "temporarily-abled". This shift takes into consideration who we are is only a product of that moment in time, and does't include who we are tomorrow or in the near future even though ultimately, that is a part of us. Identity constantly changes, making it impossible to know definitively who someone is, even yourself!

Well, that's what happened with my friend. Since I finished treatment, she encountered her own health challenge and trauma. Her circumstances shifted, fundamentally changing who she was and her seemingly perfect life. I guess the same could have been said about me. Once I was a twenty-something on top-of-the-world, the next, a bitter, angry cancer patient.

If there's one thing my diagnosis taught me, it's that everything you know for certain can change in a split second. Envy is futile because you'll never know someone's whole story, their whole life or the full impact of either. 

And if now, 18 months out of treatment I got to choose, I'd pick my own dilemmas over anyone else's any day. For no other reason than they're all mine, and they're a part of someone I kind of like - the person I am today. 

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