Sunday, January 1, 2012

Looking Ahead to 2012

I love new beginnings and I am excited by the start of another year. 2012 represents a fresh start. Although there were definitely many challenges in 2011, I am looking forward to moving beyond these into the new year.

Yesterday, on December 31st, I attended the funeral of a man who died from cancer. After four years of fighting metastatic colon cancer, he died early Christmas morning. He was the father of my sister's childhood best friend. As an adult, I reconnected with the family to some extent. I attended her wedding and she attended my sister's wedding. The younger sister of my sister's friend was the pianist at a church I was visiting for a few months. From what I know, he maintained good spirits throughout his illness. He also raised three successful women-- a doctor, a concert pianist, and an international development worker. I was immediately affected by the news of his death. Cancer has claimed the life of yet another person and it has impacted the life of so many others. My thoughts and prayers are with this family.

Cancer survivors are everywhere. I recognized a minister at the funeral and he introduced me to his wife. I had said, "Cancer is a beast. I was diagnosed last year."

"I'm a survivor too," she replied.

"We're everywhere," I agreed. We are even at this funeral.

"What kind? If you don't mind me asking..." she replied.

"Thyroid," I replied showing Meaty. For some reason, I have gotten into the habit of pointing to or revealing my scar when I talk about my diagnosis to someone new. It's never planned though and it's as if I was saying, 'I had cancer. Look! I have proof' or 'This is where the thyroid comes from.'

"Me too," she said. "You did the radiation and the isolation and...?"

"Yup," I said.

"How many years along are you?"

"It just happened this past year." She and a friend respond with gasped with expressions of sympathy.

She proceeded to tell me that it took her five years to recover from her thyroid cancer. "It affects you emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically." I totally understood what she meant. The thyroid is a tiny organ but it packs one hell of a punch. It is tied to so many functions that affect your well-being. Then she proceeded to tell me how she lost the fifty pounds she gained as a side effect of thyroid cancer.

This is her story and she felt compelled to share it with me in great detail. She finished by saying, "If you have any questions or need to talk, please call me." Her thyroid cancer journey was shaped by this experience. Unlike many thyroid cancer survivors, my weight gain has been minimal. Despite the fact that I have re-introduced exercise to my routine six months ago, my weight has not budged at all which is happens to many thy'ca survivors as well. But weight fluctuations or rigidity is only part of the cancer journey story.

The reality of the cancer journey is so multi-faceted. Cancer forces a person to face his or her own mortality as symbolized by the funeral, a physical transformation as in the thy'ca survivor's weight gain, and other challenges. Each person's cancer story is so individualized.

Stories are at the centre of our human existence. They are the reason why television shows and movies are so popular, books become bestsellers, ancient texts are so sacred, and our ancestors gathered in circles around a fire. In 2011, I have been so blessed to share my story to so many people. I have also heard many stories and I look forward to 2012, a year in which I hope to share even more stories through this blog, the Thyroid Cancer Canada quarterly newsletter as a new editor, articles, journal writing, and hopefully a book.

Kris Carr is someone I hope to interview for this blog. I feel that we are kindred spirits for a few reasons. After I started this blog in April, I was amazed to learn about her and see how much her cancer journey reminded me of my own. Second, she is also a Virgo, our birthdays are one week apart. Third, she wrote something that resonated with me in her most recent blog post :

I’m an artist at my core. I struggle, snuggle, protest, pound fists, open arms, break, yell, hide and fly. That’s how I expand. How do you wrangle that!? You don’t.

As I vowed this year not to create any New Year's resolutions (I am resolution-ed out, I already have my 100 Funky Sexy Manifesto Survivor Resolutions also known as FSM, for short), I have instead made a list of things I look forward to in 2012. Kris Carr says that a very "Virgo-esque" thing to do is to assign a resolution for each month. (Do my 10 goals in 90 days count?) This is the closest I come to New Year's resolutions. Here is to sharing them with you my readers.

2012 (Looking forward to it)

- Continue self-care as a top priority (sleep, exercise, eating well, meditation, yoga) (FSM)

- Write, write, write

- Visit prospective Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs in Creative Writing and apply to the ones I like (FSM)

- Sell my car

- Embrace my new volunteer position as News Editor and Newsletter Committee Chair for Thyroid Cancer Canada (TCC)

- Sing in a Caribbean folk choir

- Spend more time with family

- Learn how to post videos and some podcasts on this blog

- Connect with more writers and opportunities to develop my writing (workshops, classes, retreats)

- Plan my wedding (FSM)

- Run in an event

- Do the Crazy Sexy 21-Day Cleanse (FSM)

- Complete one of my book ideas and send out queries to potential publishers (FSM)

- Be a better kindergarten teacher, writer, partner, sister, family member, and friend

- Move to a nicer, cheaper apartment (FSM)

- Worry less

- Introduce more raw foods on my vegan plate

- Run in an event (FSM)

- Forgive more (FSM)

- Do more speaking engagements (FSM)

- Be more assertive (FSM)

- Spend more time with nature

- Clean house (FSM)

- Budget better

- Read more books and see more movies (FSM)

- Incorporate the 7 principles of Kwanzaa (Nguzo Saba) into my everyday

I realize that putting all this out there, I am taking a bit of a risk. By sharing my vision with y'all, I am feeling a level of accountability for following through... although I must confess that I do have a tendency to overcommit. (I hope I didn't this time.) Also, some of the items on this list sound suspiciously like resolutions. Oh, what the heck? So what if there are some resolutions stuck in there. I have a great feeling about this year.

I wish you and your family a very happy, healthy, and blessed 2012. Happy New Year!!!

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