People throw around a lot of cliché words and phrases when they’re talking about The Cancer. One that lately has become my least favorite is referring to the whole cancer thing as a “journey”. Because, really, what’s up with that? I mean, yeah, I guess it’s better than referring to it as your “cancer death sentence” or your “epic cancer battle” but gee, a journey makes it sound kind of like fun. Oooh! We’re going on a journey! Maybe we’ll see the Grand Canyon, or Mount Rushmore. It implies movement that, when chemo’s got you on your face kicking the snot out of you, is not happening. Not only that, but to me it seems like an attempt to some how glamorize The Cancer. Oh, look how brave you are on that big, exciting, cancer journey of yours!
And no one chooses The Cancer, so what famous journey might we compare it to? Lewis & Clark? Nope, they chose to go on their journey. Magellan? Nope, can’t compare it to that either. It’s more like the Trail of Tears. Nobody asked if you wanted to go. If they had, you’d have said no. You’re going someplace you really don’t want to be. Not everyone on the “journey” with you will even make it there. Doesn’t that sound great? I don’t know about the rest of you cancer girls out there, but I’ve spent this whole “journey” trying to get back to my normal.
I know I’m sounding a little grumpy these days. Maybe that’s because I’ve been absolutely bombarded by cancer questions lately. Now let me be clear, if you’re a survivor, or you’ve been recently diagnosed, I do not mind talking, to you about The Cancer at all. What wears me down is folks who are basically just asking because that’s the only thing they know (and apparently all they care to know) about me.
Last weekend was a combined service at my church. That meant that all of the old folks who normally don’t see me, saw me, and they all felt the need to ask about The Cancer. I told Angie, “It’s like I’ve got two kids. First they ask how The Cancer’s doing, and then in the next breath they ask how Mini Me is doing.” In truth, it’s not quite the same, because when they’re asking about The Cancer they use this kind of hushed, cautious tone and they say “How are you?” Unfortunately, the generic answer is never good enough for them. I say, “I’m doing fine.” Then, not satisfied with that, and obviously unable to read my body language which I know has to be screaming “Stop talking about The Cancer!” they’ll inevitably ask something like, “Are you in remission?”
What is it about having The Cancer that makes people think they have some claim on your medical condition? You know, I don’t walk up to Mildred and say, “How are you? Is your irritable bowel still angry?” or stop Eunice on her way into the bathroom to ask her how her incontinence is going these days (ba-dump-bump), and when she says, “It’s fine” I don’t say “Are you still wearing Depends? You know, my great Aunt Madge DIED of incontinence…or was it indigestion?”
All of this has me seriously considering whether or not to tell people if The Cancer ever does come back. Really. Like, I’m thinking it might be less drama, and less conversation if I just tell folks I’ve got some other disease. So far, my favorite option is The Gout. Anybody have any other suggestions?