In March of this year as I showered one day, I found a lump in my neck. *Pop!* Overnight, it was there. It sounds strange, but I immediately knew something was wrong. I can’t tell you why, but something inside me just kept saying, “This is bad.” A week passed and no change. Concerned, I started seeing doctors and was told several times that I had a bacterial infection and they’d soon cure it. But my lymph nodes weren’t slowing down. A week or so later on my morning commute, I casually itched my neck. Two more lumps. Anxiously I texted a friend, hiding behind sunglasses in hopes of covering up my tears. What was happening to my body? Why so fast? I wanted time to stop. To rewind. Luckily, my medical team quickly found out I had a very aggressive, yet thankfully very curable, form of lymphoma. Teary-eyed, I asked the doctors what lymphoma was, unclear about my diagnosis. Blood cancer. That’s what it was.
Now that I’m halfway through treatment, those first few days after being diagnosed feel like a lifetime ago; feel like another me. I’m handling chemotherapy well though, and thankfully it’s extremely likely I’ll be in remission around New Year’s. I often daydream about that day, curious as to how I’ll react when I hear the news. Part of me is fearful to go alone because if it’s positive, I want a big celebratory hug. But I also fear I’ll still have tumors and that I’ll disappoint anyone that comes with me to the appointment. This last bit may sound strange, and to be totally honest, I wasn’t expecting to feel that way either. At this point, I should know better, though. The journey I’m on to recovery has me feeling all sorts of new things and keeps throwing me for a loop at every turn. Some days are tough, but on the plus side, every day it reveals to me something about myself, true love and mortality that I hadn’t known before. Cancer’s taken so much from me, the least I can do is take these lessons from it in return. So thank you, lymphoma. Thank you for all you’ve taught me.
Accepting Love without Conditions: There are times I feel so guilty for being ill. There are even moments when I want to keep how I’m emotionally or physically handling my cancer a secret, sure it will keep my closest family and friends from worrying all night. But they just keep trucking along with me, and I’ve come to realize that I don’t always have to be the happy-go-lucky Garrett. I can be the sick Garrett, the sad Garrett and the meditative Garrett I naturally am, and they’ll still be there to help me fight. You’re always stronger when you let others in and allow yourself to bask in unconditional love.
Focusing on the Now: Cancer is not just about going in for chemotherapy. There are probably a dozen appointments in-between each treatment. And each one has the potential to derail your ever-tentative recovery calendar. Cardiologists, ophthalmologists, the works. I hadn’t realized prior to my diagnosis how vital and intertwined the lymphatic system and the rest of your body truly are. I never know what my next appointment will hold and I often lie awake at night wondering what the doctors will say. I’m learning to live in the moment, though. NOW I feel good. NOW I have energy. NOW I can go shopping when I want. I’m currently feeling the best I have since I started, and I’m determined to not worry about the rug being pulled out from under me.
To Feel is Not to Be Weak: In our hyper-masculine culture, us men are taught not to cry. Be tough. To those who say, “Man up,” I say eff off. I cry. I cry a lot. And I’m learning not to feel bad about it. I feel better for it actually. There were times not long ago when I would hide away in the guest bathroom late at night, sobbing into tissue. The release is a much needed catharsis I didn’t want to bother anyone else with. “They need sleep,” I’d tell myself. “Don’t bother them.” As I get more comfortable showing how cancer is truly affecting me, I’m also learning how lucky I am to have those that let me feel without judgement. They’re truly teaching me to be at one with my feelings. —Garrett
- Treat Your Feet: The latest footwear collection by SoukBohemian features patterns in rust, black and white hues. Plus, they’re all handmade by Mexican artisans.
- Fall Cooking: I tried out this parmesan-roasted acorn squash recipe this week, and whoa, was it delicious.
- Kitchen Refresh: Friend to D*S, Dabito of Old Brand New recently renovated his Aunt’s kitchen and the plant-filled, sunshiny results have me missing summer.
- Handmade Halloween Treats: It’s never too early for a little Halloween sugar rush. These homemade Butterfingers taste almost exactly like the real thing. The secret? Melted candy corn.
- Mid-Century Must-Have: Other Times Vintage is a fabulous go-to for all manner of vintage decor. This pair of mid-century cowhide sofas takes the cake. Now if I could only find a spot for them in my new apartment…
- Daily Affirmations: Alexandra Smith’s Instagram is not only a beautifully-curated peek inside her life as a mother and wife, but it’s also peppered with inspiring, self-affirming poetry and tidbits sure to put a swagger back in your step when you’re feeling a bit low.
- Must-Reads: Finding Your Creative Vision & Sticking to it with Andrea Pippins, How to Apply Design Theory to Life and Get Unstuck, The Beauty of Self-Care: Honor Your Senses
- Food + Drink: In the Kitchen With: Chiron Cole’s Cured Beef and Potato Crouton Salad
- DIY: 11 DIY Projects to Transition Your Home’s Decor for Fall
- Interiors: A Home Designed for Fun in Memphis, TN, A DIY-Inspired, Rock & Roll Home for Two Washington, DC Creatives, 12 Nicely Neutral Rooms Without White Walls, Studio Tour: Consort Design, 10 Cozy Spaces We’d Escape to On a Cozy Day, A Farmhouse in Florida Rich in Colorful Rustic Decor, Studio Tour: Gorgeous and Green, Studio Tour: Isabel Halley Ceramics, 14 Small Space Journeys to Follow on Instagram,