Do you ever feel yourself start to come undone? Like pieces of yourself start to fall away, and you are left with just one fragment of who you are? Here’s what I’m talking about…
This week I’ve noticed myself becoming less and less myself, and more and more solely my melanoma diagnosis. It became obvious to me quickly, because it was familiar, and I recognized it immediately. Each time I have a melanoma, I go through this “cracking” process, so it seems…at least that’s what history shows. It begins with the falling into a vortex of fear, followed by the constant and unrelenting thoughts of “What can I do to make this situation better?”, which, if I look at it honestly, is me wishing I had control over this disease (that’s when the note to self about the fact that I am doing everything I can do, to protect myself from future melanomas is needed). When I get to this place, it looks like this (3 melanomas, 3 variations of the cracking process):
1st melanoma- Cyclone of fear, research everything related to melanoma, became preoccupied with every mole on my body, let it rule my life, obsession to the point of needing outside help. Months of exhaustive searches to find peace. Didn’t happen. But, with professional help and time, I did return to me…a changed me, but me none the less.
2nd melanoma- Downward spiral of fear, buy every book on cancer and read it, dive into nutrition as a way to prevent cancer from returning…becoming a wanna be Kris Carr , watching any and all movies related to cancer and nutrition. None of this brought the ounce of serenity I was chasing wildly in my movie viewing and the reading of copious amounts of books. A different kind of action was needed; that was clear. And that’s when Respect the Rays was born. And THAT helped. And I returned to me…a changed me, a stronger one.
3rd melanoma- Whirlwind of fear, more book reading, researching, the insane desire to go “sit in” on the pathology classes at UNC medical school, wanting to BE a pathologist, or a dermatologist, or an oncologist, but really, if I could just be all three, that would be best. This cracking had me to the point of dialoguing with the complete break down process, wondering how far down I’d go this time…but, I am pleasantly surprised to report the, my return to self this time, was much quicker, not as low, and what brought me out of it this time, are the two things I am doing next week (I’ll tell you in a second…keep reading). Back to me, and yet again, changed by the experience.
I can only think of Suzanne Vega’s song entitled Cracking, where she sings, “It’s a one time thing, it just happens a lot.”
Visually, this is the way I can best describe what this feels like:
Having spent much time in an introspective state, I have come to see what gets me back to me….it is action.
And this time, what has sprung me out of the cracking process and into action-oriented thinking, was an email I got yesterday….from a health teacher at the high school…asking me to speak next week.
So, next week I will have the privilege of teaching teens about sun safety and melanoma (#educate)…and participating in the 2nd GlaxoSmithKline Melanoma Summit (#speakout). THIS is what gets me back to me. When I begin cracking, coming undone, falling apart, I know (based on history) that I will not remain there forever (even if it feels like it at the time). Me, as wholly defined by my diagnosis, fades over time and with action, and eventually, I return to me (a better version, paradoxically). Out of self…and into action…that’s the way .
The Dalai Lama said it best when he stated, “Our prime purpose in life is to help others.”