Where I Stand

As a teenager I read many Dean Koontz novels. Several of them included brief poems between parts or chapters. And one of these poems has stayed with me all my life. It’s almost haunting, really, how it will invade my mind – even if I haven’t thought of it in months or years.

On the road that I have taken,
one day, walking, I awaken,
amazed to see where I have come,
where I’m going, where I’m from.

This is not the path I thought.
This is not the place I sought.
This is not the dream I bought,
just a fever of fate I’ve caught.

I’ll change highways in a while,
at the crossroads, one more mile.
My path is lit by my own fire.
I’m going only where I desire.

On the road that I have taken,
one day, walking, I awaken.
One day, walking, I awaken,
on the road that I have taken.

Maybe you can see yourself reciting this poem at one point in your life. Or maybe, like me, you identify with it today.

I can’t say that life didn’t happened as I planned; I realized planning was futile when I was just a teenager.  That was when I first had an inkling that ‘everyone’ doesn’t necessarily ‘have it right.’ I started to culture and nourish an ability – maybe even a gift – to create solutions and not just make decisions.

Looking back, this skill has served me well. Like a stand of trees it has grown and matured alongside me. It helps me overcome odds that seem insurmountable.  It guards me from being someone I’m not.  It shelters me from crushing self-doubt.  It lets everyone else know where I stand.

When I turned 30, I told myself the next 30 years were going to be the easy ones. After all, between 13 and 30, I had faced enough challenges for 2 lifetimes. Yep, I expected the next 30 years would be full of fun, relaxation, and fulfillment.

And why would I think otherwise? I worked hard. I endured. I did everything I could to setup the best possible lives for the ones I love and for myself.

But alas, shit happens. Rather, rare lung cancer happens. One moment I’m trying to convince a doctor that my cough isn’t an allergy. And a few days later I’m sitting in a hospital bed, weeping, asking a pulmonologist to spell the variety of cancer growing inside me.

This is not the path I thought.
This is not the place I sought.
This is not the dream I bought,
just a fever of fate I’ve caught
.

I know only to deal with this as I have dealt with all other problems in life: head first and with a solid plan.  Of course, that would be meaningless without the love and support of my family and friends.

This December I was sitting in the barn with my mom as she worked, and a thought came to mind.  “You know,” I said, “I would rather have lung cancer and people who love me so much than be healthy without them.”

I guess that tells you where I stand.

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6 responses to “Where I Stand

  • Toni-Marie

    Hi Jessica. You do not know me but my name is Toni-Marie and I am on the board of directors of a foundation called “Down Goes Cancer-The Joe Mak Memorial Foundation.” Your co-worker Brandy sent me your blog and I have been following your story. One of the goals of DGC is education and awareness of lung cancer and I would like to feature your blog on our Facebook page. We are trying to get people to realize that lung cancer is not just a smoker’s disease and it can affect anyone. Like you, we want to break the stigma of lung cancer and the best way is through education If this is alright with you, you can reach me tonimarie@downgoescancer.org. On behalf of the board, I wish you the best and I hope to hear from you.
    Thanks!

  • Sjoukje

    Hi dear Jessica, reading this made me cry.

    Reading your blog makes me realize what is important in life. Why on earth am I worrying about having to travel longer for work, starting next week? What is that about? Clearly, nothing. It’s just one of several silly things… I know Im depressed…and I have no idea why… I read about you and also Jacqui from Big Ears in Tasmania, and you both are such inspiring women. I wish I had 1% of your strength…. I know this cannot be easy, but still, you make the best of everything.

    I wish there was a way to fix all of this for you…..and others who are in the same kind of situation. Life can be so unfair. I am happy that you have a loving circle of family and friends around you. This: “I would rather have lung cancer and people who love me so much than be healthy without them.”, is beautiful.

    Thank you for sharing your story. Sending you much love from The Netherlands!
    xoxo Sjoukje

    • Jessica

      Thanks for reading it, Sjoukje! Writing the blog is really cathartic for me: it allows an outlet for my thoughts and I feel like maybe I’m helping other people in some small way.

      Please give Charlie and Benito lots of kisses for me!

  • Sjoukje

    oh you are, you really are. Im going to read all of your entries this weekend, when I have a bit more time.

    Charlie and Benito send you lots of nosebonks 😉 Also to your pretty Blossom Bun! xx

  • Carol

    You truly make me cry . I wish i could fix this.

  • Double Take « stage iv

    […] that’s my plan.  I have a strong sense that I’m approaching crossroads, and I don’t want to make a poor decision.  If the next course of action is chemotherapy, […]

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