Living in the Cancer Cloud

Every day, my brain is a cloud. I’m constantly tired. Waking up after ten hours of sleeps feels no different than rising after two. Some days I’m ready to conquer anything that comes my way, hit the gym, meet up with friends, apply for every job I can find, write every essay I’ve dreamt up. Most days, however, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to remember words of objects directly in front of me, conversations I had last week, or names of people I’ve just met. It physically hurts to not be able to say everything I need to say in the correct phrases or see the sadness in someone’s eyes when I can’t remember something we had just talked about days earlier or sit down at my computer to write because I’m constantly distracted by any moving object or the simple idea of sitting in one place.

I don’t know how much of this I can blame on my cancer and its subsequent treatments. After all, it’s been a year-and-a half since I finished chemotherapy and radiation. What I do know, however, is that I’m not the same person I was before. I don’t function or think like I did before. This could be permanent or just a fog that will lift in a couple of years. What I do know is that on most days, this brain haze makes me feel stupid and incompetent, less capable of everything I know I’m perfectly capable of.

But I’m not alone in my fog.

Andrew McMahon of Jack’s Mannequin and Something Corporate was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 22. He is now a healthy 31-year-old husband and father working on his latest music project, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. This is what he told Buzzfeedabout his first five years after cancer:

“I got quote-unquote better, and I was physically healthy. But it led to this purgatory. I was unsure of life and unsure of the decisions I was making. After I came up against this life or death question, it made every other question so confusing. I think of 2006 to 2011 as this really blurry time. And I did a lot in that time! I managed to put out two records. But I was in a fog.”

This is the best explanation I’ve read to explain the fog that is post-cancer life as a young adult. It’s the summary of how I feel on a daily basis and my fear that my cloud will also last five years. Even more on point is this interview McMahon did with U.S. News in 2011. If you’re curious to understand why I constantly say that trying to live a life again after cancer is as difficult as battling through it, please read that article. He’s able to respond in a way I haven’t yet, because he’s gotten past the five year mark, to the new memories that don’t completely revolve around cancer. I’m not there yet.

But I’m not alone.

[Originally posted on my Tumblr page.]

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