I’ve been told many times that you can do anything you set your mind to. Mind over matter. What you think becomes your reality. Cabbage is cupcakes as long as you truly believe it in your heart…
I think there is truth in all of those things…yes, all of them!
And I also believe in something else:
Acceptance. Sometimes cabbage is cabbage.
My diagnosis was only a few weeks ago, but my health has been declining for more than three years. In that time I have been getting very good at convincing myself that my abilities haven’t changed and I can do all of the same things I’ve always done. As a performing artist, my job is very physically demanding. I kept grinding on, even though I was in pain. I kept doing what I do because I’ve trained my whole life to do it, I love it and it’s part of who I am. Mind over matter. No matter how much more I hurt, no matter how tired I felt, I stepped up and performed EVERY SINGLE SHOW. But, there is a point when perseverance and a positive attitude is really just a front for complete denial. I was not ok. No amount of belief was going to change that. I was very sick, and getting sicker by the day. And in the past three months, my health has been declining even more rapidly.
In the past 25 years of performing on stage, I can’t think of a single show I had to cancel. In the past three weeks, I’ve had to cancel 4. I’ve also turned down almost every offer for new shows from now until the end of the year.
Financially, this hurts. Really bad. This is my full-time job. It’s how I support myself and my family. Every one of those canceled shows is the equivalent of losing a week or two of your 9-5. I have no idea how I’ll pay my bills, let alone all of the new medical bills. And that stresses me the hell out.
But the hardest part has been admitting to myself that I can no longer do the thing I’ve trained my whole life to do. It broke my heart to call up that first client and tell them that I just can’t do the show. I finally hit the wall. I knew I couldn’t pretend anymore. And, I can tell you it is very difficult to accept the things you cannot change. I had to put my pride away in a little box, shove it in a closet and take a hard look at what I was really capable of. Or else I may never see the stage again.
Because that’s the end goal here, right? To get better and come back to the things I love. To allow myself time and space to heal. I have cancer. Positive thoughts are helpful, but I’m not interested in denial. I need to take it seriously. There is a chance that at the end of this I’ll feel better than I have in years. There is also a chance I won’t.
As of this moment, I’m still performing here and there but at a much slower pace. I’m booking a bunch of shows for the summer. I hope I feel well enough to do them when the time comes. That’s my target. Too, optimistic? Maybe. I don’t know. How can I know? It could be years before I can perform comfortably again. Or never. I may have to keep kicking that little box of pride down the road. I may need to change course completely and redefine who I am and what I have to offer this world. I suppose that’s both terrifying and exciting.