It was all a dream, a social media dream. When I went public with my Hodgkin’s Lymphoma story, it was early 2016. I don’t think I even knew how to fully use Instagram. Essentially I’ve seen it all. The good, the bad, the ugly. I think social media is great because it helped me get through one of the most difficult periods of my life and connected me with some of the best friends I’ve met. They all had cancer too, duh. But like anything else, social media does have its faults. There will always be critics. See, that’s the thing about the internet. Anyone can hide behind a computer and say whatever they want. It gives people a sense of bravery that they lack in real life.
So, let’s talk about how to be happy in REAL LIFE, not just on the internet, something I’ve learned through out my Hodgkin’s Lymphoma battle and life after. Ready for some real talk? Well, here it is.
Before I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I had it all. I had the looks. I had the job. I had the lifestyle, I had everything. And I had no idea what was about to happen to me. I was 28, living this glamorous lifestyle that wasn’t real. I was always the girl that every guy would think was the most beautiful one in the room. I knew it too, which was my own demise. I knew I could have whoever I wanted. That was the problem. I was always focused on the next best thing. I was independent. My mother always taught me that if I wanted something, no one was going to give it to me. I had to go out and get it myself. And that’s exactly what I did. See, I had everything. And I thought that the things that I had were the most important in the world. They weren’t. They aren’t. But when I was diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, everything was stripped from me. My physical identity, my health, my career, my sanity/mental health. Having everything meant absolutely nothing. I learned that pretty quickly. All that matters is that you are healthy, your friends and family are healthy, and that’s pretty much it.
When it comes to cancer, life after cancer, or whatever difficult situation you’re going through, healing is not linear and everyone survives in different ways. Pain is real and so is survival. We are doing ourselves a HUGE disservice by comparing our lives to those on social media, ESPECIALLY when we’re going through a traumatic event in our lives. Let me be frank. Social media isn’t real for the majority of people that post on it. Everyone wants to be an “influencer” or a “blogger”, and any Ashley, Britney, or Cindy can write that they are a “public figure” or “personal blog” under their name. These are the people that we are comparing ourselves to, which is why we are doing ourselves a disservice by turning so much to social media. We can be whoever we want on the internet. So with such a focus on social media, how the hell do we become happy in real life? It’s more simple than we think.
- The number one thing that you can do is STOP COMPARING YOURSELF to other people. Especially people on the internet. Unfortunately it’s 2018, and a lot of people live fake lives because social media makes this so easy to do. In the cancer community, life during treatment is a shit show, but let’s talk life after treatment. We all know that’s a hot mess too. The thing is, it’s such a taboo subject so no one discusses it. I’m more than happy to discuss it because nothing makes me more sad than receiving messages from other’s with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma or any other type of cancer, telling me that they have anxiety/depression and don’t know why they are so traumatized when they survived a disease that has killed so many. And guess what? This happens because a lot of “influencers” in the cancer community are doing a disservice to themselves and others by glamorizing what they’ve been through, and not being real about it. Yes, we all choose to deal with situations in our lives differently, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I was that girl crying every day afraid to go to sleep because I wasn’t sure if I was going to wake up the next morning. I was that girl sitting on the bathroom floor with my hair falling out in clumps every time I ran my fingers through it, wondering why the f**ck this was happening to me. I was that girl embarrassed to leave my house because I was bald, I was sick, I could barely walk from chemo and had to wear a FALL RISK bracelet every time I entered my cancer center. Positivity doesn’t cure cancer. It’s not normal to be positive 100% of the time, and if you think it is, you’re not being real with yourself. You just need to know that a lot of people get high on likes and comments, which is why many aren’t genuine with the battle that they fought. What some post isn’t genuine. It’s not real. You can’t possibly compare your situation to another person’s because of the fact that there is so little in life that we can actually control. One minute we’re here, the next we’re gone. You just never know. Our given situations should be proof that as much as we want to plan out our lives, we can’t. Never in a million years did I think I would get cancer at 28 and spend a year of my life trying to fight a disease that was trying to kill me. Months being so messed up from chemo that I had to go to physical therapy to learn how to walk again. Living in limbo for a good amount of time. Even still, almost 3 years later, trying to wrap my head around wtf happened to me and learn how to live again. The thing is, you think it will never happen to you. Until it does.
- Stop letting everyone know your every move. People who are happy in real life don’t have to share it with the entire world. People who are happy in their relationships don’t have to post their every milestone. You know why? Because they’re out living. They’re out enjoying one another’s company instead of convincing the world that they are in perfect relationships. A lot of the time, the ones who overexpose are the ones that feel that they have the most to prove to the world, when in reality, this is all an inside job and they need to work on themselves. Privately. The best moments in life usually don’t make it on social media. That’s why I have a strict policy of my dating life staying very far away from social media. I will never be that girl that freaks out if her boyfriend doesn’t post a picture of her. You know why? Because I’m confident with myself. I don’t need validation from the internet. Plus, I don’t want people throwing bad vibes via cyber space. There are a lot of crazies out there. Also, stop oversharing things with people. Even your close friends don’t need to know every detail about your personal life or relationships.
- Money doesn’t mean a damn thing. Yes it pays the bills. It can buy you what you want. But what happens when your life does a 180, you can’t work anymore, and you’re attached to a pole of chemotherapy fighting for your life? See, your money is no good there. It no longer matters. Fight me on this one all you want, money won’t decide whether you live or die. You can have all of the money in the world, and still lose your battle with cancer. Everyone’s bodies react different to treatment. We can’t say why some people survive and some don’t.
- Once you realize that nothing in life can be planned, you will find peace. As I said before, we all want to have our lives planned out for us, when the reality is that nothing in life is set in stone. Nothing in life can be planned. I’m the prime example. Did I ever plan to get Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at 28? Did I plan to have my life put on hold not just through treatment but for years? Do people plan to get divorced? Do people plan for tragic events to take place in their lives? Absolutely not. Stressing about the future is pointless, a waste of time, and causes unnecessary pressure and anxiety.
Sh*t you can’t plan.
- People in your life come and go for a reason. Stop trying to keep up with them on social media. Accept it and move on. This was one of those things that took me forever to “get”, but once I got it, I got it. Everyone enters your life for a reason. There are no mistakes. This is one thing that I will swear by. I truly believe that god puts specific people into your life at the exact time and duration that they are meant to be there. There’s NO logical reason why the events during my cancer took place, if it wasn’t god working his little miracles. When I was going through treatment, I met a “McDreamy” in the hospital. This guy pretty much got me through chemo when my world was falling apart. I mean, who doesn’t want an on call doctor at your disposal 24/7? This wasn’t someone that I would at that point in my life ever go for. But I learned a lot from him. I learned compassion, kindness, and that looks are probably the last thing that will ever matter. I met nurses that came into the picture right when I needed them. And post chemo, I started hanging out with friends that got me out of the house and forced me to live. Although a lot of these people are no longer in my life, I do realize that they were absolutely there for a reason. Would I want them in my life now? Probably not. But everyone serves a purpose. You just have to figure out what that purpose is, thank them, and move on. Never beg people to stay in your life. If they are meant to be a part of your journey, they will be. If the latter, there’s no need to keep up with them.
Thank u, next.
We all know that the crazy c just teaches you lessons on lessons on lessons. That’s all for now, but you all know there will be more to come! Thanks for following my journey. I love you all!
Your (former) Lymphoma Barbie