Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Let's Play Kick the Cancer Girl

I don't like this game too much, it's becoming a little old.

For starters I don't much like being Cancer Girl. It is too reductive a role to encompass all that is me. Unfortunately that's all some people see when you say cancer. You stop being you and become someone else. Generally that someone else is a preconceived idea built by the TV and print media. The narrow potrayal of "miracle" stories and running fundraising campaigns have something to gain by their portrayal of the martyr cancer patient. It's called money, and people eat it up.

The occasional person I know has rebuffed my, "things are tough", with ,"you should be glad to be alive!" They wonder where my pink runners and permagrin are. Stairs are my nemesis. And isn't, "glad to be alive", a bit redundant unless you are suicidal? Of course I'm glad to be alive, DUH. I rarely see people who have survived a horrific car accident jump around glowing at the gift of continued life? They are too busy healing from the damage. So am I.

These miracle martyr stories are feel good fodder. They seem to only damage the perception towards the average person who is dealing with the day to day of living with/through cancer.

Don't get me wrong. I love feel good stories too. They can be uplifting and inspirational, but also at times they can set the bar too high. Is there something wrong with me if I couldn't continue working through chemotherapy? Should I try to stuff down my emotions and become a Stepford cancer patient? I'm me no matter what, so bite me.

I also talk about it. I consider true strength, being able to cope, deal with and accept your circumstances. There's no other way to move forward, except through and beyond. It's hard but the only way to let people know the real deal with cancer is to talk about it. I'm not being real if I have to hide what's going on in my life. Yes, there is cancer stuff, but there is other stuff too. I can't ignore what I'm going through to sooth other peoples anxieties. There's not enough makeup or Spanx in the world to make me look like what they want to see.

Maybe I'm too nonchalant about death and the like. Dark humour can be a brilliant thing when you have to stare death down.

So, let's give up this pathetic new sport. I think my "friends" anger towards me is actually their heightened sense of mortality. I make them realize that this may happen to them too.



rachel d said...

yup, you said it
it is really good to read your honesty

T.Allen said...

Yours is a perpective definitely worth exploring. Your honesty I'm sure, validates the feelings of so many others who are tired of fluff and fodder.

Wonderfully Sew Knit said...

" I consider true strength, being able to cope, deal with and accept your circumstances."

You are so right!

Rosebud Collection said...

No one really has a clue what you are going through and I really think people don't know how to act..Some say dumb things, but in all honesty, they mean well.

BaldyLocks said...

I'm sure they mean well until they lash out at you and call you a pity friend.

Tragicomedy said...

This is such a refreshing read, it really is. Granted, I am a huge fan of dry &/or dark humor but a bigger fan of raw truth.

I, too, like most others enjoy good stories, pick-me-upper tales and inspirational chats of survival. However, I can tolerate the hell that was in-between as well as the 'mess' that was left behind.

Some people are only around for the show, some in very odd ways like to accept pity on your behalf (ala tales of the sick friend), some hit the door before it's over, and some wait to run until the water is still.

If I found someone who was always happy and positive, on a mission to save the world and cover it in pink along the way I'd probably throw up Linda Blair style as soon as they were within arms reach.

You're great, for lack of better words. You're honest. You're up and down and in-between and it's fabulous. You're smart and creative and quirky (the good quirks).

You're the person who isn't going to sugar coat things. Should I ask if you had a good day and you replied "My day was pretty shitty, how was yours?" I would not be surprised, and would hope that you'd have the same reaction if I sent you a similar message.

Some people seem to be their own form of cancer, except their ignorance spreads like herpes in college. Why we all let these herpe-people upset us is beyond me and I hope one day I can pick up some paranormal super powers to sense if I'm giving my permission for an idiot to enter my life to take a proverbial shit on it.

I may read this blog post every day like my mom reads her cheesy inspirational quotes.

High-five, that was a stellar entry and very much appreciated.

I totally just wrote a book on your comment area, haha!

Miss Melanoma said...

Ain't that the truth, sister? If you were to look back over the last few years of my blog you'd see soooo many posts about the surprises I've gotten from friends who got the hell out the kitchen when it all went down. Friends that had been around for years and years and stuck through some pretty hard times, but when death walks in the door, it becomes too much.
I'm so sorry you're having to endure that. If you're like me, then most of your life your friends have been your family, and then for your family to duck out when it is so important to have some support- well, that's just shitty. I know I've never met you but when I read your blog it feels like we've been discussing these things for years. You're a good girl and you deserve better. And my hope is that through all this we have both learned that and we both find better for ourselves. I'm sure you've figured that out already, though. It doesn't take a Phd.
I've barely had time to check in and have missed reading what's going on with you. And I always love to see what your working on. And thanks for always writing the truth.

You're a peach, (no, seriously)

High Desert Diva said...

I think your last statement captures's all pervasive.

I admire your spirit, and your honesty.

(Personally, I couldn't be one of the pink rah, rah girls either.)

Christine said...

Wow, good for you for not playing the Stepford cancer patient. While my own path right now is to look for joy in the cracks, I've spent lots of time on the dark side and think it's an important part of the journey. Only with my cancer-sisters have a felt free to use dark humor and say what I really feel, because others can't deal with the honesty. I’ve seen the fear in the eyes of friends as they desperately look around for the escape button. They praise you for "being strong" because they need to re-enforce that behavior for their own comfort. God forbid if you don’t play their scripted role to help them cope!

But I forgive them, because I used to be one of them. When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, I went all raw-raw and signed up for the whole pink deal. Since it came back in my lung and faced a new reality, my new favorite saying is "gag me with a pink ribbon". And, oh yes, "fuck cancer".

ps - I'm honored you put a link to my blog on your site. xo