In case you missed it, I spent 8 hours in the ER yesterday. I’m fine, it hurts, but it’s stupid and fine and NOT CANCER.
In my draft folder, I have several serious posts about living with cancer, but I can never seem to massage them just right. Yet while I was in the wifi/cell dead zone of the ER yesterday, both Mrs. Figby and my friend IH sent me links to this excellent post on Gawker: Positivity is Bullshit When you Have Cancer. I know several of you have already read it. I highly encourage the rest of you to read it too. But I’ll just pick out a few particularly meaningful sentences to me (this is the cheating I was referring to, since I’m using this as the core of my post):
The vehemence with which people insist that “positivity is the best medicine” when they catch wind of my misery—not difficult to sniff out since I’ve got one major silent-but-deadly depression cloud following me—makes me want to explode.
Cancer patients are expected to be poster children of a movement, meant to reassure the masses that this plague, and even imminent death, can be overcome with positive affirmations and attitude adjustments.
I am the unpleasant face of cancer. I am not accepting pain and loss gracefully. I am a disappointment.
But a positive mental attitude does not cure cancer—any more than a negative mental attitude causes cancer.” We need to stop blaming cancer patients and start supporting their emotional needs.
Now, let me just say that I am trying to be positive as much as possible. What is hard the pressure to be positive. The sheer terror on a person’s face when they catch you on a not-so-good day and they want to run away from a conversation because they can’t deal with your negativity. You know what? I don’t get to run away from the cancer!
A well-meaning person told me that I can’t make everything cancer-related. That not everything that happens to me (in this case the back pain) is necessarily due to cancer. Which is true. And in this case, on a Sunday morning, after a well-medicated night of sleep, I can see that back pain is just back pain. But let me tell you, on the 3rd day that I couldn’t sit on a chair, when the pain wasn’t being helped by good old over-the-counter meds, my mind went there: to metastasis. I wrote ‘letters to my daughters’ in my head, I made a short bucket-list. Because once you have cancer, you always have cancer. Maybe after the 5 year mark you can take a breath, I don’t know, but right now, everything is tainted with cancer.