Remember that scene from Mr. Deeds (great flick) when Adam Sandler asks all the stock holders what they wanted to be when they were little and then asks what they are now and they all had weird answers like that Texas dude who wanted to be a vet but now owns a chain of slaughterhouses? I sure do. I actually just watched it again on youtube so I could remember what that Texas guy wanted to be. Regardless, Deeds was talking about how the power of money and greed can corrupt and spoil your dreams. I’m not here to talk about that, but rather how a difficult diagnosis like cancer can spoil your dreams.
Now, let’s be honest with each other, many of us didn’t achieve our dreams for a variety of non-sickness reasons. Maybe you wanted to be baseball player but you got older and realized you have terrible hand-eye coordination. Or maybe you wanted to be a magician but your hands fell off or something. I dunno. I had two dreams growing up. One was to be a rapper, but then I realized I have a pretty solid speech impediment and people don’t want to listen to a rapper who can’t make the “th” sound. The other dream was to be a Marine pilot. I was pretty far along the path to achieving that dream, was on track to be commissioned as an officer after college and had a spot in flight school after that. Unfortunately, the military isn’t so keen on taking on people with terminal illnesses, so when I got diagnosed with stage IV cancer my junior year, that dream went out the window as well. It’s tough when you find out you can’t be everything you wanted to be, especially when it’s not your fault. So what do you do when your dreams slip away?
You get some new dreams! Dream it up baby! Don’t let the world take you down and then end up settling for some garbage life you didn’t want just because things didn’t go how you wanted them to! That’s letting your sickness win. That’s being a quiter. My dreams didn’t work out either, and for a long time I was super bummed about it and I spent a few years just sort of floating through life, doing nothing more than what was expected of me and blaming everything on my cancer. I wasn’t taking advantage of the time I had, and for people like us, time is the most valuable thing there is. It’s a pretty easy thing to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere. It takes the wind out of your sails, and if you’re going to get healthy again (or just survive as long as possible) you need that wind. You need that hope in a brighter future or else you’re accepting your current fate as how it’s gonna be.
What I’m getting at is this: if your sickness makes it so you can’t do something you love, then find something new to love. There’s a million things out there that can bring you joy, you just need the will power to keep trying. I couldn’t be a rapper or a pilot, but then I discovered that I love to write and now I’m trying to achieve my new dream of helping people with my writing. And it’s been awesome! The feeling I get when I see someone has viewed my blog gives me the same excited feeling I get when I get good news from my oncologist. It fills me with hope for a brighter future, even when my scans aren’t great and I’m too tired for blind optimism. Finding a dream that you can chase even with your disease can be monumental in your fight to overcome your disease. At the very least, it means you’re still trying, and that makes you a winner. So just remember, cancer may kill your eyebrows, but it can never kill your dreams!