Practical advice and personal wisdom from a four-time cancer survivor.

I don’t want any stuff

March 29, 2016 by Julie Negrin

FullSizeRender (5)I’m surrounded by “stuff” right now. Things I’ve packed into suitcases and shlepped from San Diego to Seattle.

One of the reasons I’ve led a gypsy lifestyle is because I love change, the excuse to purge, start fresh somewhere new. It feels cleansing, emotionally, spiritually – the feng shui magic tidying of it all.

When I moved in the past, I’d imagine my new life during the purging process. When I was packing in New York for San Diego, I’d decide what belonged in my new life: black clothing (no) bathing suits (yes). It was fairly easy to decide what to keep. I always had a vision for my new life, wherever it was.

When I look through my closet now, I see the jacket meant for running outside, the shirts and pants purchased for office work, the cookbooks full of recipes I can’t eat.

I’ve been very emotional regarding the move from San Diego to Seattle and now I’m beginning to understand why. It’s not only going to be physically taxing. And psychologically jarring to leave the cocoon of my current apartment. And awkward transitioning to living with my folks. Those three things are enough to warrant apprehension.

The real doozy is that I don’t know what’s next. I have no idea if my old skirts will still be in style by the time I rejoin the world. I don’t know if I’ll ever have the energy or a healthy enough tummy to run outside again. I don’t know if I will eat normally again. 

I have no fucking clue what the next chapter of my life will be about – or if I will even get more chapters.

Why will I need nice shirts if my life revolves around getting IV fluids twice a week? What good are cute shoes if I’m getting undressed for visceral manipulation and acupuncture every week? Cooking my meals from scratch? Laying in bed several days per week? I’m only half way through life and all I need are sweat pants every day – which would be fine if it was temporary – but IS IT? I find myself giving things away. Why keep what I may never use?

Right now, my “stuff” is taunting me. Reminding me of a life I can’t have, that I may never get back again.

People try to reassure me – which I appreciate. I much prefer people try to say something than not say anything at all.

But what’s happened to me is so mind-boggling fucked up that no one knows what’s next. Even my therapist, who is very, very good, stumbled when we came across this one. She told me that people that need kidney dialysis or become paralyzed have to make peace with their situation. Which is true. But all that did was make me cry harder.

The truth is my case is so unique, there is no predicting how any of this will pan out.

And now, my world is about to shrink even more than it already has – to a bedroom, a kitchen, an infusion center, doctors offices, and fortunately, soon, hanging out with my family.

Everyone complains about how much stuff they have but that’s because YOU HAVE A LIFE. Mementos from trips, athletic gear, holiday decorations, clothes for lots of activities, tools, crap your kids brought home.

Is it such a bad thing? If you feel like “stuff” is filling a gaping void in your life or you’re trying to keep up with the Joneses, then yes. But if it’s because you have a busy, full life and don’t have time to unload often, then probably no.

Because trust me, you don’t want to be looking through your house and thinking “will I need this if something bad happens to me in a year?” “will I need this if I have no energy for another 2 years?” “will I need this if I’m not able to work in an office for a long time?” – or worse, “will I need this if my life is cut short?” 

These aren’t questions you want to ask yourself. 

A couple of weeks ago, I saw one of my “clinic buddies,” Eddie, where I get fluids. He was near the end, dying of cancer – he passed away a few days later. I drove home knowing I’d never see him again, trying to process watching someone literally die in front of me.  I ended up behind an expensive, convertible for several blocks. I watched the driver preen as we crawled along the busy downtown streets. And I thought of Eddie – who was about to leave his body and couldn’t take a damn thing with him. I stared not in judgment but in fascination. 

It’s a funny thing about “stuff.” We want it so badly. We grow so attached to it. We’re broken hearted if we lose it. We spend so much time searching for it. And even more money buying it.

In the end, though, except for keeping you dry, warm and fed, “stuff” doesn’t solve a damn thing. I’d trade my few belongings and everything I could possibly own for the rest of my life for a functioning body. 

Every. Single. Item.  

I have no idea how I’m going to get through this move…but I can do this.

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Categories: Cancer, Life Lessons, Side Effects, Spirituality

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  • Hi, my name is Julie Negrin. I’m a nutritionist that’s battled 4 cancers: melanoma, ovarian, colon, and endometrial cancer — the last 3 all at once — due to a genetic disorder called Lynch Syndrome. In the three years since I lost four organs, I've been slowly transforming to "disabled" after living a mostly able-bodied life. I've also had a bunch of other complications including not being able to eat solid foods.... Stick around if you're not afraid of the ugly bits. Much love,

    Much love,

    Julie Negrin

    About Julie & Cancer Teacher

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