The self that lived for fulfillment may have collapsed like a pretense at the first word of cancer. This is not a loss, however, but a refinement. You are no longer defined by the interests you pursued or the desires you expressed: you are no more or less than the person whom your wife (or husband) and children love.
Posts from the Cancer Category
Choose another category?
- art, etc.
- Current Affairs
- electronic life
- Infinite Jest
- Poetry, Literature, and Writing
I had a friend who I’d known since college, which is a lot longer ago than I would like to think sometimes. We were each other’s maid of honor in our weddings. We drifted apart after our children were born — different times, so we never got the chance to bond further over playdates.
When I was diagnosed with cancer some years ago (no fishing for sympathy — I’m seven years cancer free and stronger and healthier), I called her up for a visit. She came and was pleasant and a few months later, when I was post-op and strong enough to get dressed every day and spend time sitting on top of the bed covers and not under them, she sent a teddy bear and some chocolates and a note that said she didn’t have time for the friendship any more. I was devastated for a couple of years by that.
Another friend I met only a couple of years before diagnosis when she was helping decorate and stage my mother’s home for sale after my mother had died. We became friends right away. A couple of years after we met, I was diagnosed with the aforementioned cancer. She was with me through the whole process, helping me to shave my head when my hair began to fall from chemo, spending the night in the hospital on a couch in my room when I was recovering from surgery, sitting with me every night watching TV when I was home but too weak to do much else than watch TV, taking me on outings to her church on Sundays when I was up to it.
I suppose one small silver lining to the cloud of cancer is knowing who your friends are.
The truth is we don’t know why this shit happens. In an interview with The Guardian, Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of the ‘cancer memoir’ The Emperor of All Maladies, says, “In a spiritual sense, a positive attitude may help you get through chemotherapy and surgery and radiation and what have you. 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. We can’t stop time. We can’t control most of life’s plot twists. We can embrace the unexpected, and give a patient a shoulder to cry on so that she can face her disease with genuine hope and realistic expectations.
- Positivity is Bullshit When You Have Cancer (gawker.com)