March 7, 2012

This is my Confession... Kinda

Hi Lovers!

I hope all is well and you are feeling fabulous for 2012. It has been way too long since I posted here and I wanted to share why – as a way to keep myself in check, a cathartic experience, and because I love you all.

I’ve spent too much time tinkering with this post but I have to just let it flow. Bear with me.

For the past 7 months I have been present and absent all at once. I have, admittedly, neglected my business with La NomRah to some degree. I haven’t designed or created anything new in these past six months. I’ve thought about all the things I wanted to do, steps I wanted to take and projects I wanted to complete but I simply could not manage the personal demands and demands of business the way I had imagined I’d be able to.

In October 2011 I relocated temporarily. It was something I knew I’d have to do; actually I volunteered to do it. Yet still it was a surprise. It wasn’t a choice to relocate that comes when you fall in love with a person or place and envision a picture perfect life there for the rest of your existence. No.
The opinion of some involved was that I wasn’t “employed” so I was a best fit to go to MD. My opinion was that since I could travel with my business, going to MD to help however I could was a no-brainer.
So I moved to Maryland to care for my aunt who was diagnosed with a rare case of MALT (mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue) Lymphoma, a non- Hodgkins Lymphoma, a form of cancer.

MALT is so named because it typically manifests as an infection of the mucosal tissue that lines many organs in the body, commonly caused by a particular bacteria, and most commonly occurring in the stomach. It may also affect the lungs, thyroid, bowels, salivary gland. Bacteria induced MALT may be treatable with a course of certain antibiotics. MALT also typically manifests in a particular area, almost like a cluster. (Source)

Being my aunt of course she had to go breaking all the rules. Her case was rare because:
·         at 42 she was way younger than the typical age of onset , 60.  
·          My aunt’s manifestation of MALT was not the typical kind caused by H. Pylori bacteria and so was unresponsive to antibiotic treatments.
·         My aunt’s case of MALT did not just manifest in the stomach, she also had cancerous areas show up in her intestines.

When she first called and told us of her diagnosis I remember sitting for hours on the toilet, staring into space, with “Why?” on repeat in my mind. I sat on the toilet for so long that I lost all feeling in my ass cheeks. 
Any one close to me will attest that I am not the crying type, but I was crying myself to sleep at night, bursting into silent tears behind my sunglasses on NYC public transportation while listening to Jay-Z and Kanye rap about their hip hop opulence; and there I was sitting on my friend’s stoop one sunny summer afternoon on a quiet street in Harlem ugly crying . . . in front of him. Real. Visible. Tears. Sobbing. Runny nose. And worst of all no tissue.

To say the least I was having a hard time of it, and yet weeks passed before I was able to bring myself to call my aunt, to simply ask “How are you?”

It sounds selfish, and it was. This fact was something that I was able to acknowledge once I moved to Maryland. I watched as something that was happening to one of us, became something that was happening to all of us. We (my uncles, mother, cousins, and I) were each trying to work out how we were going to deal with this individually..

What I later realized was that this selfish reaction was to be the first in a long list of “Things they never tell you about Cancer” (a whole other blog in itself).

Ultimately it is the fragility of life, a bitter pill that is hard to swallow, that is plastered across your everything and forced down your throat. You start to think of death as a real thing… not just something that happens to someone else, or another family,

The mental process was difficult for me. I’ve always been the person who never asked for help; the one who was skeptical of expressions of empathy that come across as pity. Neither of these attitudes helped as I opened up to people who tried to be supportive.

I was angry. Just mad as hell! When you say, “my loved one was recently diagnosed with cancer.” And someone responds with “I’m sorry, (insert more apologetic /sympathetic/empathetic/pity speech here” what does that really do for your loved one? How does that actually concretely fix your situation? Well that’s what internalized anger and frustration sometimes looks like – internalized passive aggressive thought at its finest.

I observed that while we as a family were eventually able to come together to form a band of support for and around my aunt, and each other, this joining forces (almost like an episode of Captain Planet) was only able to happen when we got a grasp of the bigger picture - that dwelling on things we have no control over was not just pointless, but counterproductive.

Anger doesn’t allow you to accept all the love and support that may be there for you because you are so wrapped up in being mad. Looking for someone to blame is always an option, but when that person doesn’t exist… what then?

I’ve learned plenty about myself and my family as individuals and as a unit over these past few months. Not to be cliché but we are closer now than ever; still a family with ups and downs, but closer none the less.

If I had to tell you anything I learned from this experience it would be:

·         We are all stronger and capable of way more than we give ourselves credit for.
·         Do not wait until a tragedy or illness to reconnect with loved ones. Pick up the phone and just call.
·         Self-care is of the utmost importance! You cannot be there for others if you yourself are not well
·         Find at least 1 thing to be grateful for everyday. Then, thank the Universe/Source/God for that thing.
My aunt just had her follow up surgeries done a week ago and soon enough we’ll know for sure if the chemotherapy was successful.
In the meantime I’ll do what I can …maintaining a positive attitude about the outcome.




2 comments:

Smell Goods Lady said...

Thank you for opening up and confessing...sharing your growth. Adversity is a good teacher, if we allow it. You are PERFECTLY human. All will be well....peace.

La NomRah Designs said...

Thank you so much for your supportive comments! I do believe all will be well, whatever the outcome.

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