I am haunted. Haunted, not by the ghosts and ghouls I sometimes write about, but my past. On any given day you wouldn’t know, I keep it buried deep inside. Why do I hold onto it? Most of the time, it’s the furthest thing from my mind. But every spring it bubbles to the surface. My thoughts and emotions become saturated by its darkness. I push it deeper, but it’s never truly gone.
Do other survivors feel the same way? You live with it and in fear of it the rest of your life. An open wound you must continually redress. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe, it’s because I was seventeen years old. It’s a proven fact the teenage brain’s chemistry is an alien thing. All those hormones are up to no good, triggering misfires and reaping chaos. If I’d been five years old I might not even remember. And if I’d been thirty-five I would have had the maturity to cope.
But I was seventeen when I had Cancer.
My battle with Cancer seventeen years ago has been on my mind recently. It’s the time of year for Relay for Life. Seeing the signs around town and hearing the advertisements on the radio is always a trigger. God forbid I have to talk about it too. My daughter attended the local high school’s Relay for Life. When she came home sharing what a great time she had I couldn’t help but cringe. I told her about my first Relay for Life, how I barely had the strength to finish a lap. That was the day after I finished my last round of chemotherapy.