I’ve had a hard time feeling like someone who has cancer. Part of this is the denial aspect of it: I don’t want to have cancer so in my head I don’t (you can only keep this up for so long). I’ve gone to support groups and events and appointments and made cancer friends, but it’s hard to feel like part of that community. It’s also hard because I’m pretty low on the cancer seriousness scale. Say that a mole you have removed comes back with cancerous cells is a 1 on the cancer cred scale, and 10 is finding out you have stage IV cancer in your brain and spine… I’m like a …. 3 in terms of curability and a 6 in term of treatment.
This hit home to me the other day at radiation treatment. So, I am NOT at my best during radiation. It’s early in the morning (7:20am!) and everyday so I don’t mess with anyone really. (I have been hiding googly eyes around the clinic which no one has yet removed… so there’s that.) The women are mostly older and quiet and it’s early… I did make friends with this older woman with a posh British accent. We talked about what we think during the treatment (I recite poetry and she has a mantra of “die cancer burn cancer.” I suggested adding “fuck you, cancer” to the mix.) We were talking about what a pain in the ass it is to get treatment everyday. She drives from an hour each way (assuming no traffic which HHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHHAHHAH in Boston), and I have a 15 minute walk. She also has lung cancer that moved up into her neck and head and she would be happy to get another year or two of life from doing all the treatment.
Fuck. What do you say to something like that? I know how people don’t know what to say to me (as a cancer paitent) because /I/ don’t know what to say to someone with cancer. “That sucks”? “You have such a great attitude”? “You are going to beat the odds”? The grim truth is that no, not everyone gets better. Cancer is often a death sentence. Pain and suffering and disease is a part of living on this planet.
Making all these cancer friends can be really bleak. Also, I love you, posh British cancer friend. Burn cancer die cancer, indeed.