My name is Summer and I am dying… It took me a long time to get a grip over this fact but now I have and it doesn’t hurt as much anymore. Five years ago, I got diagnosed with Meningioma which is a brain tumor. I was only twenty six. It turned out, the severe morning headaches and visual disturbances which I had attributed to migraines, were due to a tumor in my brain. My life ended and began on the day I got diagnosed. I remember the doctor saying “there is hope”, the prognosis was good and “most” people had a good chance of survival. I kept it a secret from my two best friends- Kit and Sam. The oncologist had said I had a good chance of surviving, so I thought, why worry them. I had planned on revealing my diagnosis to them after the treatment began, but then, somewhere along the line, something changed.
A few months into treatment (which was really hard to keep a secret from my prodding best friend Kit), more tests and scans were performed to check the progress of the tumor. It wasn’t good. The treatment wasn’t working, the tumor was steadily growing bigger and basically- I was among the unlucky few.
The doctor explained to me in the most basic of terms, saying, they had to change treatment methods due to the increase in growth of the tumor. More “aggressive” tactics had to be employed which meant more and worse side-effects. He didn’t add that part, but experience taught me. Severe abdominal pain, nausea- and a whole lot of other life- inconveniencing pain.
I knew I had to tell Sam and Kit because either way, sooner or later, they would find out. Weight loss, mood swings and especially sudden vomiting weren’t things that could be easily hidden. Or even, a patch of “no hair” in the head due to biopsy- that hurt me a lot because I love my hair. And then, Sam broke the news that he and Julie were getting married and I thought it best not to disrupt their happiness and be the bringer of bad news.
But the truth was, that was just an excuse. I was scared, petrified, and in an emotional roller coaster. I had seen what cancer had done to my mother, and even though I knew I wasn’t her, thinking back to the pity state she was in, the “poor thing” look people gave her, I didn’t want that. I didn’t want to be reminded every single day that I was a walking time bomb who could pass out, flare up or even leave at any moment. It is in human nature for us to feel sorry for our fellow humans when they are going through a rough patch. I get it, but at the same time, I didn’t want that.
I wanted to leave the image of a lively good old Summer, the girl who believed the world was her oyster, who loved her friends beyond the moon, who was happy despite hidden wounds. I wanted people to remember me as “the real me” and not the cancerous version of me. At times, I felt so mad that I could curse “cancer” itself, whatever it is. But it is still me. This cancer is part of me, it is formed from my cells, my genes!
And then there was the secret I was harboring. I love Sam. It did take me a while to understand the feeling, but I did. I was in love with Sam and I knew it. But, oh the cliché of life- he was getting married to someone else. He was getting married to Julie. If only she was a wacky piece of junk, but she wasn’t. Julie was a perfect lady who I knew would do anything for Sam. She truly loved him, it was evident from the way her eyes lighted when he spoke, her ears perked up to his voice and her cheeks still flushed at the talk of Sam. I wasn’t one to break a love like that. Not especially considering it would be a miracle if I made it through half a decade.
And so, I took what some people would call “the easy path” but in reality, it was the hardest decision I ever made. I walked away from everything and everyone. I was tired, frustrated and a bit confused. I needed space, a new environment to clear my head and a miracle to destroy the cancer within me. The first was easier and so I left. It hurt at first to think that my friends would never know the true reason as to my departure. But at the same time, I know if I could go back In time, I wouldn’t change a thing.
When I first left, I was angry. Then depression kicked in. After a while and a lot of therapy, I decided- “what the heck?!” Now is all I have. I can’t even count the number of times I have had to change treatments, all in the hope of prolonging my time on here. That was all we (my treatment team) could do- prolong my time a little bit. The illusion of destroying the cancer departed us after the first few years.
I am not as strong as I used to be. I see clearly only with the use of medicated lenses. The headaches are abominable, my cramps have gotten a whole lot worse. My weight dropped significantly within the first two years of treatment and well, I am proudly bald. But it hasn’t been all bad. In between hospitalizations, I got the chance to see the world. New places, new experience, new cultures and the chance to view life from a different perspective. The perspective of a person with limited time on earth.
5 years, tops. That was my prognosis. But, here i am. Going not so strong, but still alive. Though not for long anymore. Recently, all the procedures have yielded negative results. I am tired of being experimented upon; the pain and discomfort that comes with chemo. As if the cancer itself is not enough to deal with. So, I quit the new experimental treatment. I haven’t given up on myself yet, never. I’m still going to fight this “thing” within me to my very last breath. But at the same time, I want to live out my remaining moments, my way, with the people I love.
I have grown and learned more in the past few years than in all of my 26 years. I have learnt to appreciate this life for all of its worth. Some after their diagnosis, they get a few months, some a year or two; I have been blessed to live for over five years now. I have seen as people who I went through treatment with lost the battle, yet here I stand. And now, there’s only one thing left to do.
Many don’t get to say their goodbyes. I have been blessed with the opportunity to and I’m taking it.
I’m going home.
*clicks off video recorder*