Money or Laughter

Suppressed.

Things get personal at times. We shift our focus from what truly matters to hating who we are as people.

I remember times where I thought I was going to die. I did not die, but at some point, I wanted to. Today, that feeling has been positively superseded.

Mentally, I felt dead in the head. Life has different phases and within each phase comes a lesson. You will never grow if you stay stuck in your comfort zone.

If I were to describe myself in one word it would be powerful; if you find that cliche then maybe you’re just not going through something difficult in your life. Not being able to express your emotions is one of the biggest sins.

I know times may seem hard. I know that I write and I get lost in my head. Maybe it is life after cancer, or maybe it is just me hating myself for feeling stuck. I have opened up a lot about myself yet in doing so it took away from who I am.

I am far from perfect, but at least I am working on becoming a better person.

You are allowed to judge me on my writing. You are allowed to judge me on my character. You are allowed to think whatever you want to think about me. Just know that you have never stepped foot into my shoes.

You might think that you may know me based off of my old writing or my old pictures. Maybe you even think I have the world at my fingertips. Yes, I traveled the world with life after cancer, but is that happiness? Is happiness measured by material?

The greatest feeling of happiness is making sure that other people are living life with content. Do not get sucked into selling yourself out. Throughout the time you will only get lost in other people’s misery.

We all experience different feelings in life. Happiness, sadness, loneliness, anger… I think by now you are getting the point.

I heard a story one time: there was a guy that shared a house with his wife. They lived a below average life, in a hut that was overseen by the king. Every night, the king would hear laughter, something that pleasantly surprised him.  The next morning, he went to visit the couple and offered them gold. He told them that he has never experienced the same feeling as he did seeing them laugh. The couple did not know what to do. The change from poverty to wealth was a huge difference to there lives. They accepted the offer.

As days passed, their laughter decreased. They were more focused on managing and maintaining the gold, they forgot to enjoy each other’s presence and laugh. Money is a good tool for helping you through life, but money is not everything.

Same start different finish

Everyday we wake up. That within itself is the greatest blessing in the world. We think we are going to live on forever. I have been waiting for my moment to shine and kept getting blocked by my own style of thinking. Life is worth living; this is the one chance we have at living it.

I sometimes drift away from what I really stand for. After all, I am human. I have some anger inside me still; I’ve learned how to control to a certain degree. Life is with living.

I sometimes get mad at myself, limiting who I want to become in thinking people could save me. I’ll save myself.

Mainstream isn’t for me. I was given a second chance; most people only have one. What is narcissism? What is self worth?

Answer those two questions and hopefully you’ll realize the difference. Most people don’t even the know the difference between empathy and sympathy. Somewhere along the line I turned off empathy and I started to became a narcissist. Fuck you; don’t judge me on that. I am aware of who I am, I became more logical in a sense of living. I get twisted in my mind when people tell me how to live. I learn from my wrongs. After all I am only human, and so are you!! Let’s learn how to become one first.

God is real. God is in all of us and we are all of the things controlling this universe. Money is what motivates a lot people. Of course we need money to go on living, but we need health first. What is the point of doing something out of stress?

In surviving and having a second chance at life, I became more humble. I am a very simply guy. I like having messy hair and a beard. One of the many reason is because I hated what chemo did to me. I made a promise to myself to never go short again. People think they know me and they think I am just another victim. Let them think that. I am starting to understand everyone is just in a different phase of life.

Finding Inner Happiness

There was a time when this was real. It felt real. Maybe it stopped feeling real after I started talking to others about my pain. The pain I was causing others.

Don’t try to fix something that isn’t broken. Don’t hold judgement on things you don’t like. Life is full of experiences and the more we do,  the more we learn.

Imagine yourself happy… what would that look like?

Can we buy happiness or is happiness an inner feeling? To the people saying happiness can be bought, then I’m sorry to tell you… One day, that thing that you thought you could buy, you can’t. Things break and material wears off.

If more people wore their feelings on their faces, perhaps there would be more happiness.

Or maybe we need to feel pain, for happiness to come.

Throughout my journey I am understanding what it is like to live.
-Mouhamad Beydoun

When heart and brain come to tranquility

When reality becomes fiction, the world starts to become a really scary place. I felt like the world doesn’t care. I know I am a fuck up at times, but let me explain. For me to always say that death shouldn’t be feared doesn’t mean I’m not being empathetic with people – I just mean that there’s no logical meaning to fear something that is given. I’m tired of being in this dark place and after being on an emotional roller coaster ride for the past 36 hours, I had my biggest breakthrough.

I never wanted to be a self-centered person. My heart was full of compassion, full of life, full of empathy until one day, my life came crashing down. Imagine your world crashing down in front of you. You have all the tools in front of you, but were never given the “manual”. I wanted to die after beating cancer and take it for what it is, but the fact that I am saying that makes me realize why I hate myself. Regardless of what people say about you or anyone, nothing would ever matter because noone knows what you go through on a day-to-day basis which is actually building you up to who you are now. You can be called all the names in the world but at the end of the day how you feel about yourself before going to sleep is what really matters. Don’t ever stop being a child. I think like a child, I act like a child, therefore I am a child.

I want to really be loved and to love. I have been with my fiancé for nine years. I would stop the world’s rotation for her. When you have your values all fucked up, your life becomes fucked up. We all get hurt in life, but if we allow hurt to remain, then hurt will always be hurt. Regardless of which way you look at hurt, it needs to be understood. If you keep getting burnt by the same flame, there will be no one else left to blame. I can be a bit poetic if I really want to.

Pay attention to when somebody is mad. When I am mad, I tell the truth in how I feel. About a week ago, my fiancé told me that I was self-centered and a narcissist. In the past, I would have made a pity party and disrupted everyone because of a need to be heard. I felt that my problems were so strong that I needed to let them out. Letting them out is fine but there is a time and place for everything. I had all my values so fucked up, that I wouldn’t speak to any therapist because of past hurt experiences and I started getting tired of explaining, so I started smoking a lot more to escape my past pains. This was creating more problems for future pain. Everything I love, or everything I think of love, I kind of overlove. That, also, is a problem. I have problems with problems but I don’t dwell on them. I try to figure them out and inspire others to do the same.

A part of me gets paranoid and I question people’s motives only because I can’t trust my own. This comes from a place of feeling like my own body lied to me, or let me down. I was told that there was nothing wrong with me prior to my diagnosis and that everything was fake, but it turned out to be cancer. People will sit there and not have the right words at times to say to you, will dismiss you if what you say doesn’t match up with what they learned. Life is all about teaching and applying. You can’t just learn and not apply. The second you obtain knowledge, you apply it. After you apply it, you can understand it.

I would accumulate all this knowledge but sit in my basement, not applying. We’re all capable of self-awareness. We’re all capable of controlling our emotions. We’re all capable of learning. We’re all capable of doing anything we put our minds to. If only we can get a grip on our emotions. Being paranoid is a scary feeling. When you throw away God, or the sense of God, you know you’re in a really fucked up place. How could one thing really fuck up my life so bad? I’m not going to sit here and pretend this is all perfect, but I’m aware of my own bullshit. The next time you think bad about yourself, understand that we all have our own issues.

At times, I feel lost. I just sit in bed repeating the same old cancerous cycle. Sorry if that offended you, but I can no longer be triggered by the same old pity. I feel like everything is a personal attack based off of my initial feeling of intent. I always have good intentions but someway, somehow, after I’ve been lied to and deemed crazy for the past two years, I started to think that nothing I said made sense. I can sit there and blame my father for not teaching me how to be a man, but in reality, all I’m doing is playing the victim card.

I look for moderation through impulse. That may sound ironic, but it’s all that I know. From all I know, I’ll still grow through past failures and having real human to human connections. You can’t expect me to reach out all the time and also can’t expect to just use people. We judge people based off their actions but ourselves based off our intentions. I can never know your intentions because you’re you and I’m me. Communication is key. The end goal is we all want to be loved. Don’t be a monster with your love. Learn how to contain the fire within because the heart thinks with feelings but the brain thinks with logic. There is a love-hate relationship within you if you keep allowing that fire to burn in your heart.

don’t count the days, make the days count

Manifest what you want out to the world.

A couple of years back I purposed to my fiancé. Impulsive but rational impulsive decision, here the thing I just got my clean bill of health and with that, I knew that death was near and that what I once lived for was now all put behind. Every year I would make a false promise or fake new years resolutions. Whether it was quitting smoking or losing weight. I would always fail because after Jan 1st my hope for change was gone because life started to become normal. One year, losing weight and quitting smoking came by force. It didn’t come by choice but came with the desire to live. One year, I wanted to quit so bad, and instead of doing it the normal way, the universe showed me that false promises get you nowhere. Lying to yourself gets you nowhere.

I remember my first ever new years back home from the hospital after I was given my clean bill of health. Extremely tired that night. I remember that night just like it was this year’s new years. I remember the jackpot of the mega millions was the largest ever. That day I had 20 dollars to my name and bought me 20 tickets. I knew that my chances were slim to none but I had a really real feeling for that quick minute. I tried for a second to plan out my life with all the money and what it would do for me. It made me want to push really hard to work for a future to payback the people that gave me everything. My first time ever really keeping a new years resolution tradition started 3 years ago.

In 2016 I almost lost that same very pretty green-eyed girl that I have plastered all over. In 2016 I learned that I took adverting of people that loved me. I was getting too comfortable living in the cancer stage that I never really saw tough love. This got really hard when I started seeing everyone as an enemy rather than a person that cares. When you come from a place of hurt and put out of your norm, you begin to experience things that make no sense to you. A perfect example is one summer, my family and I were driving up to the Poconos, but I was feeling so disconnected from the very people that sat with me by my bedside. I just felt so much hate and anger towards the smallest things. Also, in 2016, cancer wasn’t the problem anymore. That same year, I made a promise that in 2017, I would try and figure out all of my lost emotions. 2017 was probably my greatest year in just figuring out who I am as an adult, as a man. My whole life I was impulsive, but 2017 was impulse mixed with anger; leading to figuring out how to slow it down. Sometimes it takes breaking down to your core to reshape your whole perspective and realize that you’re the problem. The world won’t change for you, but you can change the world. I had dreams that were once valuable to me taken away and it brought me to an unknown world – the cancer world where I learned that everyone experiences similar things.

What ringing in this year taught me is that you don’t have to wait for a new year to start the “new me” mentality. When you wait for a certain date to take action, you’re setting yourself up for failure. This world’s rotation is what keeps you grounded, so you trying to stop that or change that just wouldn’t make any sense. I also just want to say embrace the people that love you and if they impacted you, make sure to tell them that. I have learned that time is very limited and cannot be reversed so really start implementing change now for that tomorrow may never come.

Rest In Peace Amanda, Jeremy

Thankful for Everything

[2015] Thanksgiving

Two days before Thanksgiving, my counts were rising up while my self-esteem was falling. The moment I was waiting for – after being isolated in a room just to myself and my thoughts – I was finally going to be able to see freedom again. I was super excited for turkey and it was extra special because my mom usually doesn’t make turkey but she agreed to this year because of me coming home. See, all I really thought about was going back home. I thought I defeated cancer the second I walked out of that hospital but so many more emotions hit me. I didn’t feel happy; I felt scared. I felt that the further I was from the hospital, the further I was from home and that something bad would happen to me. The only instructions I got at discharge was to make sure to keep my environment clean and not to eat outside food for 3 months until I get better. They promised to check on me from time to time. The only thing they didn’t give me instruction for was how to hold back my feelings.

The following day, I was home and I remember feeling like everything was overwhelming – a bunch of lost faces showing me lost emotions that they never felt before. It was a bunch of emotions that people can’t fake. People took my opioids, trying to hide them while I was in pain because of their own fears. This led me to being very protective about pretty much anything & made me try to reject a person (and their desire to help) before they had the chance to reject me. I have fully accepted everything about me. I crave human-human interaction but I’m fast to dismiss because I just don’t want to get hurt anymore.

That same Thanksgiving, I almost died. I was rushed back into Mount Sinai’s ED due to complications of not eating and being dehydrated. I remember the day vividly – I was watching the Eagle game and could smell the stuffing of the turkey roasting, hearing the excitement of my mom’s voice downstairs. At the same time, she heard me downstairs vomiting and complaining. I was, instantaneously, no longer spending Thanksgiving eating turkey but was in my first ever ambulance into the city. Picture this: your field of view includes just a small window of the back door of the ambulance while your strapped down to the stretcher. You’re imagining everyone living their life and enjoying their day while you’re throwing up stomach acid. Pretty shitty feeling.

So, at Mount Sinai, instead of eating Turkey as I said before, I was being treated for non-stop nausea. I had an adverse reaction to the new anti-nausea medication they tried on me. This is where I felt like I was dying… my fiance was sitting across from me and nothing she was doing or saying was making sense to me… I felt so confused. I remember questioning everything that was happening, not understanding what was going on. My neck jolted one way while my hand went the opposite. I couldn’t speak but on the inside I had enormous energy trying to escape. There was 5-6 faces that came to mind that I felt like I was going to miss – telling me that if it was my time, I should have spent more time (with them). This was also the first time throughout my whole cancer treatment that I saw her break down. She never showed fear until that day and it looked very scary.

[2017]

This Thanksgiving

IMG_2975 (1)
Here are all the things I’m thankful for: I am thankful for life, for health, for every single person that sat there and heard me cry, laugh… and I’m also extremely thankful for every person that told me “sorry”, that felt bad for me, that showed me pity, that ran away from their feelings, that tried to dismiss me as a broken kid because they are the reason I have my voice today. They are also the reason I am very thankful for life, but also want to change life. I feel that we should be thankful every single day: for opportunities not to repeat yesterday’s mistakes and simply being able to breathe air. There are so many things to be grateful for.

This Thanksgiving was completely different. I was home with the people that matter the most and we shared chicken (not turkey this time) which is fine by me because at least this time, I got to kick it in my room at the convenience of my time, writing out my thoughts. This is something I really enjoy doing. If I don’t write, I don’t know where I would be – probably just another statistic to a tragic loss. Always remember to show empathy and be thankful everyday, not just on a given holiday.

WALKING AWAY TO FIND HAPPINESS

WHAT IS FAILURE ?

What defines failure? You can look at it as being one of two things: failure or a come-up to your success. A month and a half ago, I was in the midst of finally starting to get my life back together. For the first time in a really long time, I felt like me again & not a cancer victim who was focusing on the hiccups of life.

Avoiding from failure !

There’s no real way of teaching someone how to live their life … I say this because you are told at childhood to never lie and if you lie, you will then be judged and/or punished. Now, can I ask a serious question? Isn’t a child pure life? Pure life wouldn’t understand what lying is unless told not to – which can then make them feel watched over or judged/misunderstood. I know a lot of the time I don’t make sense but if you look at the words on this screen you may realize that we, the people that control our thoughts, become our biggest problems and are blinded by our own beauty

DON’T LET FAILURE DEFINE YOU

When one door closes, another door will open. The saying that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side isn’t always true. If the grass that you’re playing on hasn’t been watered, for example. I say this because this past January, I was finally able to start living my life. I found my career path, I went on eye-opening trips, and people were starting to see me for me. But life was still way too real. Here I am, at the age of 26, looking and feeling so different/insecure, but at the same time so determined to just prove to myself that nothing life throws at me would ever be defined as failure. However, until you learn to rise above the situation, you will feel like a failure. About three months ago, I parted ways with an institution that just simply didn’t understand me. The mix-up with people at times is that they would rather dismiss something we don’t understand rather than embracing it for what it is. I was very forward and honest with a lot of my feelings and experiences, as I have been post-cancer. Some people got me for me, and others didn’t. Let me explain what 2017 has been like for me. In February, after being in this institution for about a month, I forgot how toxic and misunderstanding people can be. I came off an ultimate high of recieving sympathy and compassion, to now feeling the force/weight of the world in my throat by having to live up to so many expectations (including those of my own). I knew I was dealing with a real problem and I didn’t ignore it. This is where the story gets “funny.”  Going back to what I was saying about 2017, I found my way into radiography school. I understood through that experience that my feelings and emotions were way too real. I remember going up to one of the people at this institution telling them that I get emotional listening to patient experiences just because I’m so grateful to finally be on the other side. Three days later, I get called in for a mandatory counseling session. At first, I was very combative against it. Later on, I tried to understand their reasoning. I figured out that this place was simply a means to get what I needed, not a place that I can go around sharing my thoughts and feelings. That very same day, knowing how much it meant to my family and I, I decided I wasn’t going to let anything get in the way of my success. I remember speaking to my angel, which is someone I got connected to because he had experienced something similar to me. He told me about Stupid Cancer (like Comic Con but full of cancer survivors and caregivers) and I knew I needed these connections with people who just understood my feelings without much explaining. I gained so many great resources from some of the vendors that were there. For a brief time, I felt very alive. Soon after, that feeling diminished and just like that, feelings of being misunderstood arose again. I continued on being very honest and true with my feelings and felt that they were too real at times. The good thing about it all is that I know when to disconnect. In August, I walked away from it all thinking that I failed and that I let everyone down. That very same day, I made a very impulsive decision – buying a puppy who I named Chester. He taught me a lot of lessons but the only one I want to talk about today is the lesson of commitment. He taught me how to stay commited. For the very first time now, I was responsible for a life other than my own – that noone else wanted but me. The reason why I say he taught me committment is because prior to Chester and prior to cancer, I was always someone who bought things/returned them as I pleased. I’m not blaming this on my parents, or anyone but myself, but my upbringings in life were to always be given what I wanted. I wasn’t spoiled, but I never had to work hard for the things I wanted. When I first got Chester, I even contemplated bringing him back too. I was so embarassed of myself for not knowing what I wanted from life and I felt guilty. I realized I can’t live this life self-driven and have to learn to commit to my decisions. And I’m so glad I did. Now, every single day, I wake up – not to feed myself first, but to feed my new best friend. This has helped me learn how to commit, and love, both him and people. I’m not sure if anyone would be able to relate to me, but we all go through our ups and downs in life. It’s what you do with the downs that will define who you are.

I don’t want to allow an unfortunate situation to define me. That’s why that same week, I also applied to a First Descent trip to Oregon, which is a trip for cancer survivors funded by this amazing organization. This trip also tested my commitment and taught me that it’s okay to be me. I was given this week-long trip after recieving one of the worst piece of news, which seems like a great opportunity to jump on, but failure was killing me on the inside. The pain of failure that I felt by letting down my loved ones was blinding me from life, and the people on this trip understood that.

My first few days in Oregon were tough because I felt like I wanted to turn around and go back home. I felt misunderstood, without even giving others the chance to understand me. I remember one of my worst breakdowns there was w Pika, one of the lead staff members. She saw me at one of my worst moments – eyes bulging out, tears running down, self-hate exploding with every word. At the end of all that, she told me I was powerful and had a great voice. We hugged and I was able to enjoy the rest of my day and turn it into something I never dared to do before – try crabs. One of my biggest accomplishments was vlogging the entire trip, and ignoring the judgement of other people for trying to record my every move and memory. I did it to diminish my self-doubt – to prove to myself that I could do it. The results were fantastic. Here’s where my lesson of commitment came into play – instead of running back home, I challenged myself to stick around and through that, I was able to experience a different kind of culture and way of living – and it felt great. This trip, in general, taught me how to challenge myself everyday and learn how to accept something new into my life. These lessons are ones I will take with me on any future endeavor. With all that, I really want to let out that failure is just masking itself as commitment because commitment will challenge you through failure by wanting to see how determined you are in not letting it define you.