Hurricane Florence felt we should spend our beach vacation somewhere other than North Carolina, so we rebooked for Savannah, Georgia, with a short drive to Tybee Island. The past two days were intense, as Teresa and I worked hard to come up with a plan B, and had a family phone conference to pick a new place to stay. Then I had to change our airline and car reservations. But that’s done and we leave in two days. Other hurricanes take longer to deal with.
Tonight at support group, many of us were feeling the confusion and disorientation of good news about our cancer. We had all gotten rather used to our treatment routines. But now some have No Evidence of Disease, and others, like me, have No Evidence of Progression. How does this change things? Does it change things? It doesn’t feel quite like getting walloped by a hurricane, but it is a reorientation, requiring rethinking my identity and planned activities. If I’m no longer supposed to be dead within six months and in fact have an unknown prognosis, but if I also battle fatigue, concentration, depression, anxiety, and cognitive issues, figuring out who I am and what I’m doing becomes even more challenging.
But I have a glimmer of an idea, flickering in my mind like a candle in a draft with too short of a wick. My idea is to craft an identity for myself apart from “Old Disabled Guy with Terminal Cancer.” Instead, I want to be a writer. I want to think of myself as a person who writes things other people enjoy and benefit from reading.
In having this thought, I am immediately assaulted by imposter syndrome. The Doubt in my mind rises up, chuckling, and says it’s like deciding who to be for Halloween, what costume to put on. Last year you were “Old Terminal Cancer Dude,” Doubt says. “This year, you’re the next Woody Allen or CS Lewis?”.
My answer to Doubt is this. For much of life we are imposters. Whether we are learning to be parents, dog owners, employees, or friends with a new friend, we have to do what feels very much like “Fake it until you make it.” I want to be a writer. The writing conference in Chicago coming up in November I keep looking at and then looking away from? I think I will go. Costumed as a writer. Old Disabled Guy with Terminal Cancer can still be found, just as the beach house in Holden Beach we’d booked is still there. But for now I head to where the hurricane of No Evidence of Progression has pushed me.