Chasing Youth

When I tell someone I have stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer, the first question I'm hearing lately is, "But, you're too young". The conversation continues and I go on to explain that I was diagnosed not even a month after my 33rd birthday. I continue to explain that you don't have to smoke to get lung cancer and there is no age, gender, or racial discrimination.

How my 30s were spent...with lung cancer

Although they tell me I'm too young, I don't feel that way. My 10 year cancerversary is in November. I was diagnosed shortly after I had just begun getting my life together. I wanted another child so Karley would have a sibling. Her father and I had just separated, and we were both moving on with our lives, dating other people. Even though we split, he is now the main man in my life. I feel like he's my protector now that my dad is gone.

When my dad passed, I felt I lost a lot of my youth. Your 30's are fun, raising a family and vacationing and working. Unfortunately, I spent my 30s sick, fatigued, and bouncing from doctor to doctor to try and keep me alive while being a single mom. I wish I could have been a fun and adventurous mom. Instead, I work side jobs when I can to try to save her money for college and that wears me out. The dumbest thing I've ever done was to not get life insurance when she was born. But, maybe my mistakes can help others not make the same ones.

Mixed feelings about social media

I don't really like getting on social media much anymore. Everyone shows the best of themselves and their families. Occasionally, I post pictures with old friends or mostly of Karley for my family since we are spread out so much now. I also like to keep pictures online for Karley to look back on in the future. And hopefully, she will remember the good times were more than the bad.

Regrets look different for everyone

Now, I'm 42 and feel like I missed my youth. There are so many things I wanted to do and acquire in this life. As the great Sylvia Plath quoted, "Perhaps when we find ourselves wanting everything, it is because we are dangerously close to wanting nothing". Karley and I discussed this quote tonight and how it held different meanings for where we are in our lives. At her age, it was more about relationships. At mine, more about regrets. It's a lot like Nine Inch Nails and Johnny Cash both singing "Hurt". Who do you relate to when it comes to the meaning in each of the ways the songs were sung?

I am definitely a Johnny Cash kind of person and wanted it all, but could never make up my mind and was relentlessly selfish. I regret so many choices I made and now it's too late to change the past. If I could start over again, I would have made so many different decisions. Karley is someone I never regretted.

Getting older is a strange phenomenon

Getting older is a strange phenomenon. It's as if you look older but still the same. All of your friends still look the same even though when you look back at old pictures you can definitely see the difference. The one thing that does change, especially for women, is the struggle to continue to chase youth. We didn't realize how good we had it when younger.

So, I guess I look back on my youth and wish I could still be there. Not the cancer Samantha, but the carefree Sam who didn't have a worry in the world.

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