When I went through colon cancer treatment in 2017, I had many well-meaning supporters who wished me the best on my “cancer journey.” The support was genuine, but I chafed at the notion that I was on a journey. To me, a journey is a planned event such as a vacation. At a minimum, I take the phrase “it’s about the journey, not the destination” as the most affirmative interpretation of journeys.
But now, with my second cancer, I’ve come to realize and accept that journey’s aren’t always enjoyable events. I recently read the chapter titled ‘the hero’s adventure’ from The Power of Myth, by Joseph Campbell. He outlines the notion of the Hero’s Journey, in which an unwitting subject is thrust on a new trajectory, to follow a course of action that is bigger than themselves. For my generation, the best example of the hero’s journey is from Star Wars: A New Hope. Luke Skywalker is pushed into a universe bigger than himself when he acquires R2-D2 and learns of Princess Leia’s plea for help. With deep roots in mythology, Luke Skywalker embarks on his own unique Hero’s Journey.
For over two years now, I’ve been living with a blood cancer that morphed into leukemia. I’m now on my own personal Hero’s Journey, as I am now beginning the preparation for a stem cell transplant. I’ve embraced the notion of me being a hero: I’m fighting something that is bigger than me and I fully expect to emerge victorious. Just know that not all heroes wear capes. Some of us just wear lounge pants and t-shirts to get through the most challenging battle of our lives.
One year later. Mostly healthy and hair-challenged!