Decision-making post cancer

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This is Philadelphia, our new home. Yes, the boyfriend and I have left DC for a “new” city (in quotes because we used to live in Philly, so it’s not really new, but it’s new enough after four years away).

I am here to pursue grad school: a Master’s in Arts Administration, so I can one day change lives through the arts… or something like that. This has been a huge decision for me and mostly every day I question whether it was the right decision. I guess everyone does that with big decisions: buying a car, buying a house, moving to a new city, taking a new job, etc.

But I’ve definitely noticed that making decisions has become much harder for me post-cancer.

This might be an over share but I want to relay something my therapist and I talked about, which is my fear of loss, because I think it relates a lot to this topic. I have lost a lot in my life: my mother, my breasts, my “carefree” 20’s, my feeling of control over my body… the list goes on.

And with each loss, I become more averse to the feeling. Thus, when it comes time to make a decision, I think about everything I might lose in the decision-making process. If I choose one path, I am “losing” the possibility of all other paths. For instance, I have chosen to go to Drexel for a Master’s in Arts Administration, but that means that I can’t go to UPenn, a better school, for a certificate in Nonprofit Management! The horror!

It even trickles down to little decisions. I spent the summer working at Ford’s Theatre, where Lincoln was shot in 1865. A couple times, I was wandering through the museum making sure all the visitors were accounted for and I’d find abandoned tickets on the floor. I would pick them up to throw them away, but I’d weigh the decision very heavily. What WON’T happen if I throw this away? What if the visitor realizes they dropped it and comes back? What then?

During those moments, I would try to calm myself by saying, simply, “It ISN’T THAT BIG OF A DEAL. Throwing this ticket away will not be the end of the world.”

I realize I have to see things as more gray, not so black and white between having and losing. Making decisions is what advances life and I can’t let it cripple me.

Any other survivors experience this?

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4 responses to “Decision-making post cancer

  1. I haven’t been through all you have, but experience the same anxieties and fears. Silly, isn’t it. that it is so hard to let go of what you don’t even know! It’s hard to drum up that confidence that carried you into adulthood when you’ve been betrayed in such a way, but keep moving ahead. You have wonderful friends and family (not to mention brains and talent) to cheer you on!!

  2. Thanks, Jen! I do have the best family 🙂

  3. Yep. I totally understand.

  4. Very interesting… I, too, have not been through what you have been through, but I do think we share A LOT of similar experiences. And your eloquent description of fear of loss and difficulty with decisions is ,something I go through frequently. I guess I look up to you, and pride myself that I have a sister like you. It somehow makes my struggles just a little easier to face!

    Your big brother

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