It’s easy to judge people not knowing what they’ve been through, not understanding how it feels. To think or even possibly know you could have made better decisions. Battling cancer isn’t something easy to describe, it’s an emotional experience and it’s different for everyone. A lot of times, battling cancer is the easy part. It’s what lies ahead that’s hard. For some people, they have children they want the chance to see grow up. Others just get married and have a whole new life ahead of them to enjoy. It’s the fear of not getting to experience those things that’s scary. Personally, my fears were a little different. I was 29 and recently single and here I was about to battle cancer for the second time. My biggest fear, or so I thought, was that I wouldn’t find “love” because I had cancer, even if I survived it. Not so far off from the typical single male or female approaching 30 and having a life crisis, except I had decided that I was also a disease – which, let me tell you, was about the most ridiculous theory my brain had ever come up with and here’s why. It was incredibly awkward telling the guy in my first relationship post cancer that I was a cancer survivor. Like, how do you even start that conversation? I still don’t know. My second relationship post cancer, however, was a completely different experience. I never had to have the conversation, because he was a friend of mine beforehand and knew I was a cancer survivor.
Here’s a little background on our relationship. This guy is the most attentive, determined and carefree individual I’ve probably ever met. Attentive in the sense that he would go out of his way to do something if he knew it would make you happy. Determined, because once he sets his mind on something, he’s going to achieve it. And carefree because being with him was like a breath of fresh air. When I was considering going back to school, he’d say: “Do it! I believe you can do anything you want to.” When I’d come home frustrated from work and contemplate looking for another job, he would listen and remind me that it was just a job, that I didn’t owe anyone anything, and most importantly, to find another job if that’s what I wanted. Even after we broke up, when I was waiting on my results from my PET scan, he said: “If it’s cancer, you’ve been there before. You got this. If it’s not, you get to celebrate still being cancer-free.” A few days before my second surgery when I was freaking out about having a bigger scar, he reminded me that I had a scar of a warrior and to wear it with pride. He somehow always knew what I needed to hear. He was my boyfriend-turned-best friend. Is that ideal? I don’t know, but what I do know is that everything happens for a reason. He was in my life for a reason.
Flash-forward to the weeks after my second surgery, I had come to realize that talking about cancer didn’t bother me anymore. The pity looks I’d get would be easily fixed with a bad joke. My need to keep my cancer a secret no longer existed. Actually, I wanted to talk about it. Heck, I survived cancer twice! I wanted to yell it from a mountain top. Most of all, I wanted to help others. While I was in undergrad at the University of Florida, I was part of an organization called “You Can Cure,” which raised awareness and funds for cancer research. I can’t tell you how much it helped me cope with my mother battling cancer as well as put my feelings toward something positive. I always told myself that one day, I’d start a nonprofit for cancer patients. I decided to start small with a blog. I knew a few people that had started blogs that I could reach out to. I still remember the day ThyTabono was born. My dad had gone with me to the Volkswagen dealership because I needed new breaks for my car, and while sitting in the waiting room, I continued my research on how to start a blog. At one point my dad asked me what I was doing. “Thinking about starting a blog,” I said. To which he replied, “about retail?” I laughed it off and jokingly replied, “maybe,” although we both knew that was definitely not what I was doing. I knew what my blog would be called “Tabono” because it was a symbol I had found in my research after radiation when I was thinking about getting a tattoo. It meant strength, confidence and perseverance. It was perfect. Only problem was that that domain name was already taken. So, I brainstormed from Thyroid Tabono to Tabono Cancer, to then finally ThyTabono. That domain was all mine — well, at least for the next year.
So, I worked on building my site and writing posts for my blog. It was my new hobby. Actually, I discovered that writing about everything I had experienced was therapeutic. I made an appointment to go get the tattoo, which is funny because those that are close to me know that I hate needles. I somehow had convinced myself that the blog and tattoo were a package deal, and that was enough for me to face my fears. Not to mention, I needed a photo of the tattoo for the home page! We won’t need to dwell on the fact that it took 45 minutes to get a tattoo that should have taken all but 5 minutes. I got the tattoo. I love it. End of story. Yet, that’s exactly what I kept thinking about. How would I end my story? Here I was starting a blog about being a cancer survivor, but was surviving going to be the sole end to my story? There needed to be more, because I survived. And that’s when I realized, my fears weren’t limited to cancer — I was scared of everything!
My life had become stagnant. I had survived cancer and I was alive, but I wasn’t living! Everyone around me was reaching goals, dreams and milestones. I was at a job that no longer made me happy. I wasn’t setting goals. I wasn’t living my dreams. I definitely wasn’t reaching milestones (except turning 30). Do you know how hard it is to listen to people tell you how strong you are when you’ve never felt so weak? I survived cancer and then nothing. That’s not how my story was going to end. That’s not me. Being strong isn’t surviving. Being strong is fighting for the life you should have had if you never had to survive.
That’s exactly what I decided to do.
I started with prayer. The serenity prayer to be exact. I knew if I was going to make changes in my life, I needed to make sure my mind was in the right place first. I read a book called “The Way of Serenity” by Father Jonathan Morris, it was exactly what I needed. Father Morris breaks down the serenity prayer in a very practical way so that you can digest it one piece at a time. He then shows you how to apply it to day-to-day life.
“Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Life is full of the unexpected. Holding on kept me safe and letting go made me brave again.
My life took a complete turn in the coming year, and it all started here.
P.S. Best Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe Ever!
L CUP PACKED BROWN SUGAR1/2 CUP PEANUT BUTTER1/2 CUP BUTTR OR MARGARINE SOFTENED1 EGG1 1/4 CUPS GOLD MEDAL ALL PURPOSE FLOUR3/4 TEASP BAKING SODA1/2 TEASP BAKING POWDER1/4 TEASP SALT1 CUP PEANUT BUTTER CHIPSHEAT OVEN TO 375In large bowl, beat brown sugar ,peanut butter, butter and egg with electricmixer on medium speed until creamy.On low speed, beat in flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.Stir in peanut butter chips.Bake 9-10 minutes or until light brown. Cool 5 minutes.
- Strength- Love
- Confidence- Family & Friends
- Perseverance- My Future
One thought on “Chapter 13: Peanut Butter Cookies”
I love you and I love this post. No matter what happens, always know that you’ve already found “love” several times over. #NeverLettingGo #ToTheMoonAndBack