I went over Tony & Morgan’s house the other day. Bella my 13 year old granddaughter was watching the rugrats (my nickname for the three littlest 6, 5 and 3 year olds).
She was on YouTube teaching herself a song with her guitar. Bella is very musical and artistic she always has a sketch pad close by. I watched the video with her and asked how her fingers were doing with the guitar strings? She told me they were numb but getting tougher every day.
I told her how the tips of my fingers are numb from the medicine I am taking to fight my cancer and that one night a glass slipped right out of my hand and shattered! Bella listened attentively and seemed a little surprised. We talked awhile and the conversation changed to horses, school and 13 year old chatter.
I thought about my conversation with Bella. I wondered is it a good idea to tell her about my side effects? How much do you share with the ones you love? Will I scare them? Will they worry more? I look quite normal (physically anyways, mentally that’s questionable).
First of all this isn’t a criticism to my family and friends, doctors, co-workers etc. etc. who know my cancer battle and tell me I’m looking good. They see my good and bad days.
Some people who hear that I have stage IV cancer say “but you look so good and healthy!” Well that statement does bother me, I guess when you say the big “C” word, weak, pale and maybe bald are the visions they see in their heads. Yes there are Metavivors whose cancer has spread through their bodies and are struggling to live another day, God bless them, I know too well this could be me some day.
There are also Metavivors like me, we run the marathon everyday looking over our shoulder at the big “C” jogging behind us hoping and praying it doesn’t catch up and spread its poison to another part of our bodies. We are working, chasing kids, cooking and cleaning, spending time with family and friends, doing our chemo, radiation whatever it takes to keep us alive and we are in pain and exhausted.
So you are probably thinking “what do you say?” For me simple words work best; I am sorry to hear that, I’m here for you, I’ll be praying for you. I love the cards I receive in the mail, prayers, and hugs. A simple text saying hello can brighten my day. Ask me how I am doing ONLY if you really want to know. Don’t be scared of me, you can’t catch my cancer.
It seems to me because I look “normal” some forget I have cancer. I got an eye roll from a friend for hiring a housekeeper when it’s just me and my husband Mike. Yea, I still work full-time and have a positive outlook on life. I’m feeling pretty good and walking better but guess what? My back fucking hurts every day! I can’t wash my floors or scrub my tub without pain. When I vacuum the lower level in the house, Mike brings the machine down for me. After I’m done, I need to sit down for a bit to rest my back.
Reading other Metavivor Blogs they have the same issues, one went for a bicycle trip, they criticized her for being too physical with cancer. Another loves Oreo cookies, yup she got scolded for this and she let people know in a video to back off!
Hey I’m guilty of judging. I think of the times I saw a car pull into a handicap spot and they get out of their car looking totally healthy judged that! How about mental health issues? Depression, anxiety, alcoholism, drugs, they are easy targets too. Instead of showing compassion we criticize and give our opinions.
So what do we do? How can we break this opinionated habit? Maybe we should think before we speak? Or reread your post before hitting the send key and ask yourself if this is really going to help or hurt?
I like the saying “Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about”. Working with the public I say this A LOT!
I’m still working on the compassion and understanding, it’s gotten better. Though some things I have to ignore because you just can’t fix stupid.