During the first few days after my diagnosis, a thought kept nagging me: I did this to myself. I fucking did this. The reality is no, Leah, you can’t give yourself cancer. Also, you can’t will yourself to win the lottery. Darn it. Cancer happens every day to unsuspecting people of all walks of life. Instead of trying to grasp at why-why-why (smoking and coal mining and other environmental hazards excluded), we need to figure out how to get rid of it.
The nine months leading up to my diagnosis were the most stressful months I have ever had. We were renovating a building to start a new business and trying to figure out how to deal with the very needy business that we already had. We were working 10-12 hours a day, seven days a week, there were no breaks, no downtime, no vacation. I am basically a one-woman wrecking and rebuilding crew. That sucks for me because I know how to do too much. There is such a thing as knowing how to do too much because how can I possibly delegate when someone asks, “how can I help?” Sure, can you put in this tile floor? Re-wire a bunch of lights? Plumb some drain lines? Build this wall? Build a bathroom? Trim out this room? Build kitchen cabinets from this old flooring? Sister a few joists in the basement? Install a hot water heater? Install a furnace? Not a lot of people come with these skill sets. Except me. -sigh-
Two months ago I realized I had a bald spot. A goddamn bald spot! Women aren’t supposed to have bald spots! I went to the dermatologist and she told me that women are more likely to get alopecia than men and that it’s usually caused by stress. Your scalp basically squeezes the hairs right out of your scalp in a tidy, little round pattern. I was pretty agitated about it and very irritated with myself and my stress level. I made my hair fall out! WTF?! Then cancer happened and I realized that I am not some all powerful being with utter control over the approximate 37 trillion cells in my body. I can’t give myself cancer or make my bald spot grow in more quickly. Don’t get me wrong, continuous stress is not good for me or anyone else. But I’m going way too far when I try to blame cancer on stress.
There are so many things that need to happen for cancer to form in our bodies. Me thinking that I or anyone else could cause their own cancer is naive, hurtful and an insult to every person who as ever gotten gravely ill; children, elderly people, happy, healthy people, angry people and everyone in between. Unfortunately, we’re aren’t full of magic or we’d all be lottery winners by now.