10 years | The paradoxical emotions felt when a loved one fights cancer.

Today marks 10 years since one of my best friends in the world was diagnosed with stage IV cancer.

And reflecting today on this milestone, this is what I’ve learned since then:

It will seek to be an anthem for the struggling and a financial raiser for the Rutledge Foundation.

Here were Carley’s words about her 10-years-since-diagnosis milestone:

Both cards, cancer and survival, have weighed on me equally. They are two separate monkeys on my back. When diagnosed you learn quickly how to be a patient. Nurses show you how to move when prodded, doctors tell you how to act and behave, family supports you no matter what because you’re sick. But what about when you get better? No doctors tell you how to be a survivor. No nurses show you what to do. Not all family members understand or support your actions. Survivorship turned out to be extremely uncharted and dangerous territory.

During treatment most of your emotional homework involves turning your emotions off. Turning off happiness, so that you don’t get your hopes up about the uncertain future. Turning off fear, because you don’t want to give it too much hold over you. Turning off anger, because the people around mean well even though they are stressing you out. Turning off sadness, so that you don’t upset your loved ones.

Survivorship is about letting everything back in, and with it comes extreme highs and lows. Survivorship is confusing and extreme. Extreme sadness, confusing happiness. Extreme anxiety, confusing calm. Extreme appreciation for the people and things around you, confusing terror at losing them again. It’s like a baby learning to walk again, except this time you’re in college and nobody is there to tell if you’re doing it right. For me, walking again was hard and took me a while. So much of it was filled with laughter and joy, but I was also walking wounded. Cancer hurt me, it hurt my heart and soul and it hurt my body. It hurt me in ways I didn’t even know about. But I have been healing for 10 years, and many of my wounds have since scarred. Every day I get better at surviving. Every day I get stronger and happier and more whole. And today I’m lucky enough to say that I look forward to the future, I look happily back to my past, and I look around me every day with joy. Now I wonder, almost fearlessly, what cards I’ll draw next.

We are still this insane.



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Monica Moser

Monica Moser is an Austin-based singer/songwriter, podcaster, & freelance writer working in digital marketing in the music industry. TW/IG: @monicamoser