Well, it was finally time for me to break out of my metaphorical cocoon. I’ve had several requests for a blog, especially during the active part of my treatment. I simply wasn’t ready then. I needed more time and distance from my cancer diagnosis before writing was on the table. That’s okay. And while a butterfly is a symbol for thyroid cancer and diseases, it is also symbolic for this blog.
A beautiful butterfly did not start out that way. Oh no, there was a challenge to be faced. Quite possibly in the dark, and I’m sure alone. The once caterpillar had to struggle breaking free from the cocoon just for the strength to fly, something butterflies seem to do effortlessly. There were no short cuts here. Difficulties were not only inevitable, but necessary for the next chapter. While we all love to admire the beautiful and finished process of the metamorphosis, we tend to forget what it took to reach this completion.
I wear a thyroid cancer awareness bracelet that boldly states “No One Fights Alone!”. That is mostly true. Almost all of us have support from friends and family. If not that, there could be hospital, online, or advocacy support. Here is the thing though: You can have all the support in the world going through cancer, but there are still times you are required to be completely alone. From anything like a simple scan or test, to treatments that require isolation, you were probably by yourself at some point. Additionally, there may have been things you never vocalized and kept close to your heart. Your deepest worries. Not expressing your pain, whether physical/emotional/spiritual, in fear of being an “inconvenience”. Questions about the future. And of course, the tears you may have cried in secret. I wouldn’t dare compare something so precious as your burdened heart to a cliché. I just want to acknowledge this part of your life’s journey, cancer or not. It is so easy to rejoice and pull out the camera when seeing a butterfly. Same with ringing of the bells at end of treatments and cancer free parties. I want you to know that when I view both a beautiful butterfly and a beautiful you, that I will also acknowledge the struggle it took (and still taking) for you to get there.
I also identify the butterfly narrative in my cancer story because I am not the same person I was before I was diagnosed. I feel like my pre-cancer self was almost an entirely different person. While there are certainly many positives from this, I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss myself before the diagnosis at times. I know that doesn’t make a great sound bite for the inspirational clip on the news, but I mean it. Cancer is messy, and your life is permanently changed. There are worries you knew existed in the world that suddenly become personal. Yeah, they don’t go away when treatment is over. Meet fear of relapse, long term side effects, current side effects, emotional distress, and don’t even get me started right now on other concerns fellow young adult patients have to endure.
Nobody wants to come cancer land, but here we are. And I’m finally talking about it. Here’s to the next chapter…