THE NEW NORMAL (The World Is My Oyster)

THE NEW NORMAL (The World Is My Oyster)

“Ninety-three thousand naira… Hmmm…” I was staring silently at the first invoice for chemo, and I was a little dazed.

“I hear chemotherapy can be expensive,” Hawk said. “But are you sure this is for one round? Maybe it’s for the whole treatment.”

Hawk is my nigga; she had to eventually slip into the role of caregiver. Got nothing but mad respect for her.

“I don’t know… Maybe…” I desperately hoped so.

I had just sunk part of my savings into my new business. Another part went into property investment, which was even part payment. So it wasn’t like I could sell it right now to fund my treatment. My folks were retired; I couldn’t put that pressure on them.

Modd BC, you dumb carefree bitch! I thought. You could have at least been better prepared…

We asked at the oncology pharmacy and found out that the invoice was just for one round. And I had five more to go, spread over a period of about five months. I also learned that radiotherapy was going to cost almost a million, and then add to that other costs for tests and so on, sometimes N70, 000 each. By the time I’d be done, I would have gone through my remaining savings and be neck-deep in debt.

I tried to tell myself that no one really prepares for – or even expects – cancer. Shit just happens. But, at the back of my mind, I felt like I could have done better. Maybe if I had not been in such a hurry to leave my fulltime job and go “find my life’s purpose as a true artist”. Like, the fuck?! Or if I had waited for my new business to take shape before quitting my job. Or if I had been better at saving my money while I was working.

Thinking back now, I remember I felt that I just had to get out of that job. I felt stifled and stuck. Some days, I would get that feeling like I was never going to be do anything more if didn’t make a change. Like this job was it for me; end of the line, which was scary. The feeling would weigh on me so much that sometimes, it was hard to get out of bed in the morning to get ready for work. Then I made some new friends who were doing great things with their lives and living their dreams. They inspired me to also chase my dreams. And so, after five years of working with the same firm, I quit my job and took about a year off before starting my business.

But since getting diagnosed and getting almost financially drained, I see now that I probably did not prepare for the future as I would have liked. Also, one nagging feeling I had that cancer magnified was that: Was I really working toward the life I wanted?

Yeah, the business was doing well – slow start, but it was picking up. However I always had a feeling like it didn’t totally align with my life goals. I am a simple person; my dream is to travel the world and make incredible art (no, not world peace please, that’s too tiring).

One month into chemo, I had my head over my toilet bowl, having puked for the third time that day, and I thought to myself: Even if I survive this devilish chemo now and beat the cancer, statistics have shown that getting cancer this young means there is a higher probability of recurrence later in life. So who knows how long I have left. This means I can’t go back to living carefree and assuming things will just work out. I have to make changes and ensure that I have no regrets.

Plus I need to be better prepared financially in case things go sideways again. So whatever I put my energy into now, it has to give me financial gain quickly. Yahoo-yahoo is my Plan J.

I love making plans and writing stuff down, so I whipped out my notebook and put my thoughts down. The goal is “Art” and “World Travel” with “Worthy Financial Gain”. So for career, I came up with Graphic Design, Web Design/Web Developer, UI/UX Designer, Cartoon and Animation, in that order. To support these, I threw in Digital Marketing as well. Since I was not as strong as I used to be, I chose things that would allow me work remotely. I added “Passion Projects” – things that I have always wanted to do that are somewhat straightforward to achieve but have little to do with career. These included getting in shape, learning a new language and illustrating my own manga. My ex speaks German (Deutsch) fluently; I tried learning that, but it just didn’t gel. So, fuelled by my love for Manga and Anime, I decided on Japanese, especially when I found out you could do a full expense-paid year in Japan to teach English. Cheap travel? Sign me up!

To show the Universe I was serious, during chemo, I started taking small steps toward my goal. Whenever I was lucid, I would practise drawing and sketching. After chemo and I felt more in control of my brain, I started learning Japanese during radiotherapy. As at today, I know all the Japanese alphabets (Japan, here I come!) and my drawing has gotten better. A friend told me about Google Garage Digital Marketing course, so I started during chemo. Took a while but I finally finished it on Tuesday. Phew!

The way I see it, I am lucky I got a “hard reset” in the form of cancer. It helped get my mind in order and tell myself some hard truths. I am out of my twenties, not a spring chicken anymore, so it will be a learning curve getting into a new career. But it’s fine…I guess. I am trying to do this all in itty-bitty sizes, but sometimes I also want to push myself. For example, I saw this digital art contest for Africans on Instagram and I decided to take part. The deadline is on August 24th, and as I am writing this, I am yet to finish. I just started taking my drawings digital two months ago; to say I am struggling is an understatement. Maybe I should scale down my initial concept. Whatever it is sha, I want to make sure I submit something, 24 hours to go now…

Society has taught us to look at age in a certain way. This collective way of thinking has formed the norm and it makes people think they can’t be different. You hear things like “too old to quit that job now” and “too old to change careers”. And then there are people like me who have been forced to take that risk due to the fuckery life or the Universe has thrown at them. I have decided that my mindset going into this will be to see the opportunities rather than the limitations. I have been given a clean slate that most people don’t get. The world is my oyster; all I needed was trauma in the form of cancer to make me see it.

But between you and me, I really could have done without the cancer. A broken leg would have been adequate.

Written by Modd

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  1. Black Dynasty
    August 25, 07:53 Reply

    Oh damn! That is hella expensive!
    Sighs, life and it’s many curve balls sha. Just when you think you have things figured out or at least a plan…. a surprise shows up and there’s no choice but to tackle it.
    I will say this, a reminder of your mortality is usually the best reminder on the need to live a fulfilled life with no regrets.

    Chase that dream and keep getting better Modd!

    • Modd
      August 26, 13:09 Reply

      Totally. Steady pushing!! ?
      Thanks!

  2. Mitch
    August 25, 08:07 Reply

    You see these hard resets life tends to give us? I can tell you from experience that they’re the absolute worst. I had mine in 2017. And, Lord, did it hurt!! However, when I was done kicking at it, I realised that I’d been given the chance to make something truly worthwhile of my life.

    The learning curves aren’t easy, but they’re necessary. And I’m glad you’re rolling with the punches and learning new stuff.

    Just a tip, though: Make sure you’re not being too hard on yourself. We tend to look at the past and beat ourselves up over the things we didn’t do ‘right’, forgetting that we can only see the ‘wrongs’ now because we’re more mature and can see the entire picture of the past, thus enabling us to know which would have been the ‘right’ decision. Honestly, every step we take is a foray into the unknown. We take them and we hope and trust our instincts that they are right. These steps, their results and the lessons we learn from each process are what make us the people that we are.

    So, rather than beat yourself up over the past, look to the future and tackle it with all you’ve got. I’m glad you’ve started a lot of new things. With time, you’d get better at them. And, life may or may not cut some of them off your path, thus streamlining you to just one or a few. However it happens, just remember to have fun, be happy and find fulfillment in what you’re doing. We’re not going to get out of life alive, so we might as well enjoy the rise while we’re at it.

    Lots of love to you, Modd.

    • Modd
      August 26, 13:08 Reply

      Mehnnnn… That hard reset dey pain… Thanks so much for your kind words.
      I know not to beat myself up about it but sometimes the feeling just comes. Still working on that.

  3. Dunder
    August 26, 15:42 Reply

    Pain has a way of pushing us towards purpose. Although a broken leg would have been a much better idea, I’m glad that you are reinventing yourself and that you have a positive disposition despite the huge challenges you are facing. Hang in there and I believe it will all work out in the end. This encouraged me and I am truly rooting for you to beat this.

    • Modd
      August 26, 17:23 Reply

      Oh my, I’m glad it encouraged you. Keep fighting too, all the best to you as well!

  4. Malik
    August 27, 07:39 Reply

    As someone who lost a sibling to cancer many years back and who saw both parents deal with chemotherapy and radiotherapy in the past two years, I can say that I have an idea of how crazy the treatment for cancer is on the human body. It’s probably worse than the illness.

    You barely talked about the nausea, the vomiting, the pain, the physical and psychological exhaustion, nor the appetite and sleep changes you must’ve experienced

    I’d say your strength is phenomenal and I hold you in highest regard. Chances are that due to a strong family history of cancers I may be getting this kind of “reset” at some point. If/when it comes, I hope to be half as strong as you are.

    Wishing you a full recovery and more than enough years to smash every one of your dreams. Stay winning.

  5. Nekwah
    September 12, 16:35 Reply

    A broken leg WOULD have been adequate LMAOO

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