Embracing the Insecurity

Embracing the Insecurity

I had initially planned for this week’s column to be about confidence.

I was going to write about some of the big changes that have recently happened in my life, like moving to a city, going back to university, ending a relationship, and starting again. I was going to talk about how far I’ve come from those fragile and vulnerable days of lymphoma diagnosis and chemo. And how I feel that things are finally falling into place and I’m moving past the stages of recovery into a new, confident, and content phase of my life. I had planned this in my head, slotted in among the million things I need to write, finish, and do. But then, life happened.

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” —John Lennon

Oh, life. How ironic it is that while I’m planning to write about how stable I finally feel, my future is threatened all over again. I wrote a few weeks ago about my fear of relapse. I had been traveling around Spain and Italy, taking in the most incredible landscapes, devouring linguini in medieval Italian towns, and absorbing the surreal artwork of Michelangelo, when symptoms reappeared. I had fatigue, chest pain, and a swollen lymph node. The seemingly solid foundation of confidence and trust I had built for the future quickly began to dissipate. Fast forward to a few weeks later, and I’m still having tests done. Each doctor’s appointment has led to more tests and exams, and now finally a PET scan will decide my next chapter.

This sudden insecurity got me thinking a lot about how the very nature of life is insecure, despite this false belief we have that it’s all carefully laid out for us. We can go ahead and plan, imagine in our heads how it’s going to look. What we’ll wear on our wedding day and what our careers will look like in 10 years. Where our next vacation will be. We can spend all this time strategically planning and putting together a future, and then without warning, it can all dissolve. Just like that. That is the nature of life. That is why the mystics and the prophets have perpetuated this notion of present moment awareness. Be here, now. Be in this moment. Embrace the river of insecurity running through your veins. Because nothing is promised to you. Nothing is secure.

I say this not to create fear, but rather acceptance. There is comfort in the volatility. We can’t do anything about tomorrow. But we do have the capacity to carpe diem the hell out of today. This little scare has shaken me awake. Yes, it’s made me more hungry for life, more desperate to stick around, to not lose what I have. Mostly, it’s compelled me to be in the present. I feel achingly awake. Profoundly aware of how lucky I am to be here and to have my health, my two feet, a place to sleep, food in my belly. Suddenly I’m dancing down the street with music in my ears and a spring in my step. I’m drinking my coffee with more intensity and more awareness. I’m excited to get out of bed. I’m speaking up in class, raising my hand, putting myself out there.

This feeling is always there, within all of us, I suspect, but we get caught up. We get lost in the routine, tied up in the monotony and the thoughts in our head. We forget to see the simple pleasures in every day. A hot bath after getting caught in the rain, a satisfying meal, hugging a lover at night, butterflies in our stomach. Finishing a project, a bite of something delicious, our best friend’s laughter, making a new friend. Crunchy leaves, ripe fruit, art that makes us feel something, gray skies, and a soft, cozy scarf on a chilly day. A book that you just can’t put down, a song that makes you feel invincible, a smile from a stranger, exercise and its endorphins, jumping into a swimming pool, a good night’s sleep, the smell of the ocean, new shampoo, freshly baked anything, red wine, a Friday night.

There are a million things; tiny things that are satisfying, and gratifying, and beautiful — and they are there for us in every moment.

I don’t want to die, but I know one day I will. I don’t know when it will be; I can’t know. That’s the beauty. That’s the curse. We have to just live it. Live the insecurity. Live with the spontaneity. It’s intoxicating. It’s frightening. But, we have to be here now.

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Note: Lymphoma News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lymphoma News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lymphoma.

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Michelle Raphaella Fredman is a 25-year-old writer, teacher and self-proclaimed travel addict hailing from Cape Town, South Africa. Two years ago, she was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. Going through cancer at such a young age was both an eye-opening and life-changing experience which in time became the catalyst to start writing and sharing her journey with the world, in the hope of helping others facing similar challenges. Her favorite past times include reading books, practicing yoga, being in the ocean, exploring the world and documenting the myriad beauties of everyday life. Currently, she's working as a full-time English teacher in Quito, Ecuador and in a few months will be moving to London to complete her masters in Journalism.

5 comments

  1. Donald Leske says:

    Ive been thru 3 rounds of chemo and im always optimistic ,plus 2 different research programs ,although the chemo had terrible side effects it always gave me a few more years which in thankful for. But ive come to the conclusion that as far as the Pharma Companies are concerned theres no profit in a cure but everyone who has this terrible ailment should remain optimistic and keep a positive attitude and keep smiling 🙂

    • I couldn’t agree more Donald. There’s no other alternative. We can choose to be pessimists and die quicker, or be optimists and see the beauty in life, despite our obstacles. Or rather, because of them! All the best to you fellow warrior 🙂

  2. Cami says:

    Well said! I learned to let go of controlling and planning everything around me after my cancer journey and it has been freeing. I couldn’t get out of bed if I couldn’t stay in the moment. I had four re-occurances, two stem cell transplants and have been in remission for five years now. Do I worry…of course, but I don’t let it determine what kind of day I am going to have. Thank you for sharing your story….I have shared it with others.

  3. Bob says:

    Excellent article. As you say, simple things can warm your heart and soul. I’ll remember your words on my journey. My best to you.

  4. Hally S DeCarion says:

    Hi Michelle, Thank you for your post. You are a gifted writer I can see that. Your story has touched me very much and because I have lived 75 years on this planet, I was hesitant to reply. Yet, what you wrote about being in the moment and having such an appreciation for pure simplicity and the fabric, smells, tastes and experiences of our every day lives, really moved me deeply. I took a trip to Quito ten years ago to practice Spanish and visit Ecuador. I found it to be a beautiful country. I even went to Cuenca (spelling?) and into the rain forest. Met lots of friendly people along the way. At that time I had Chronic Fatigue and MGUS, the precursor to what I have now which is WM. Nevertheless, I sort of ‘plowed ahead’ because some days I felt really lousy and there were foods I was reactive to. Last year, I was diagnosed with WM and my treatment is helping raise my energy levels. I am very grateful to have received help with my symptoms.
    You have definitely risen up to embrace each day. Thank you for your insights. I am still learning to breath, to slow down, and to be here now. This article was a strong reminder. I wish you well in what you are now dealing with and admire how you have been using writing to share your journey with others. Many blessings sent your way.

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