Sunday December 22nd 2013
Eliza our beautiful niece was dedicated at church this morning; a welcomed and wonderful distraction from my burdening emotions and myself. I was fortunate enough to meet Heather an amazing woman who is a 30+ year survivor of breast cancer. She is also a breast care nurse and is keen to support in any way she can. It is a really lovely morning, people keep telling me how radiant I am, I certainly don’t feel it. Although who would say, “geez you look like crap!” I wonder if they are just being kind?
Many people have said “you look better than we thought” It also makes me think what do they expect to see? Perhaps a waif like version of myself close to death, with grey skin and sallow eyes? Nope I am me, somewhat swollen, slower, boobless and a little fragile, but me.
When you think of someone having cancer what do you think? Interesting question huh. So many friends have said “wow you look different to what I expected,” or even have said “sorry but I can’t do this”. Some have been silent.
I just don’t want people to fear seeing and speaking to me. But with the greatest respect, each of us have our own journey. You do things your way and I do things my way. This will always be the case.
To be honest, at first it was hard to deal with peoples reactions. I suppose because I had not choice about whether I went through it or not. I just wanted support when I needed it and to be heard. I wanted to be acknowledged and speak about “Cancer” if I want. I certainly don’t want cancer to be in every conversation I have.
In fact, most days when the thought comes across my mind “I have cancer” I don’t really believe it, it does not seem real to me. Even as I sit here and write it is like I am writing about a fictional character. Self protection I suppose….
So many people have said “Oh I expected you to look so much worse!” I wondered is that a good or a bad thing? I have actually had someone say when I mentioned chemotherapy “cool you will lose weight”, not a word of a lie. Unbelievable huh? But I also realise that this comment was about them not me.
Who on earth really wants chemo so they can lose weight? How tortuously sad that we feel this burdened to look a certain way that even the idea of being subjected to deadly toxins will at least help you lose weight? The sad irony is that Chemo actually makes you gain weight in some case and also just as bad (or worse for some) makes you bloat. So you don’t even win on that front. Bald, boobless and bloated how beautiful….
I just want to be noticed and treated normally. I want to be heard and supported. I want to useful, to be allowed to support others; this is the best thing for me. Let me do something useful so I feel like there is more to my life at the moment. I crave purpose; each major life event like this means more for me if I can help someone else. Let’s make this awful ordeal at least useful to others.