Dear Cancer, I Want to Feel Whole Again

by Chelsie BakerJune 18, 2021View more posts from Chelsie Baker

Dear Cancer,

You have changed how I view my life, and the things that I need and want in life have become more of a priority. You’ve also made it more challenging to get more than ever right now. I was already unemployed when you came to me and I didn’t know how I could do this.

I was already struggling with communication with my husband, and you amplified where we needed work. I cried for three days straight after I found out I had you. JD, my husband held me for those three days: held my hand, held me as I cried myself to sleep or hugged me. He kept my spirits up, talked about the future in a positive light and did the best that he could with the news that we had. You see when I first got the news, I was told that I had B-cell Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and I knew that could be life-threatening. It was very hard because I was in another state and couldn’t see the doctor or an oncologist to understand this more. It still took many weeks and biopsies to come to the conclusion of exactly what you were and where you were in my body. I’m grateful that you are currently only in my skin, but I am fearful that it can get into other areas of my body over time. 

When I had to get biopsies on my chest to determine if you were there, it was the hardest thing so far, and it broke my self-esteem and my ability to look at my body with confidence anymore. I have the scars on both of my breasts now, and every time I look at them I’m reminded of how you can hurt me. I want to be grateful for you, but I am not there. I want to be happy that it’s the “good kind of cancer” as people have said to my face, and I want to believe them, but I don’t. I want to feel whole again. 

Now, it’s months later, after treatment and clearing lab work, and I feel you again. I have a checkup in a few weeks, and I’m terrified they will tell me what I already know: you’ve come back, and I’ll continue to see you for years to come, over and over again. This is my new norm.

Photograph by Joseph Allison

To read this letter and the other letters to cancer, click here to read and download the June 2021 Magazine

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