When I first got cancer there was so much to say. I could talk about the devastation I felt when I found out; I could talk about getting the port installed in my chest; I could talk about starting chemo. It seemed like there was something new happening every day.
Even once I started chemo, and for the first few rounds, I could talk about how it was making me feel: there were the digestion problems, the hair-loss fiasco, the lack of tastebuds… and then, suddenly, there was nothing new.
Everything is the same now and I pretty much always know what to expect. I sit on my couch. I feel sick. I don’t really go outside unless I have to, and when I do, I never stay out there long. At times I even dread it.
My life is officially boring now. What is there to talk about? I’m just waiting for new chemo days. Or lab days. Or steroid days.
I’m not the same person I used to be. Some old friends I haven’t seen in years come and visit, and it’s nice to catch up but I get so tired so quickly now, so they never really stay that long. Then there are the friends I used to hang out with, but now that I have cancer, we just sort of drifted apart. What are we supposed to talk about? Cancer? That’s not fun. That’s not mimosas.
Of course there are my go-to friends that show up even when I’m not feeling like it and make me go on walks (outside). They plan weekly game nights and they make it so I maintain somewhat of a social life.
I fear that if I have none at all I’m going to forget how to communicate with people. I’ll come out of cancer all socially awkward and will be cooped up in my house anyway… for lack of friends, not lack of health.
It’s been four months now that I’ve had cancer.
When I sit inside all day I don’t wear a wig. I wear beanies and pajamas. For lunch sometimes I slow-trot across the street to get a sandwich. Everyone in my life knows I have cancer, and everyone treats me sort of differently— they’re overly nice.
But this lunch lady across the street, she still treats me the same. She’s nice sometimes, but also moody and mean. I’m not sure if she knows I’m sick or not. Maybe she just thinks my hair is tucked up under my beanie and I’m wearing pajamas at 2pm because I work the nightshift or something?
Sometimes I want to tell her, but we don’t even know each other’s names so we just communicate in smiles… on her good days. Last time it seemed like maybe her smile was a bit more concerned, but maybe that’s just me being needy.
These days I work from home. I write articles and conduct interviews for said articles with people over the phone. They are all successful entrepreneur types and they don’t know a thing about me, let alone that I have cancer. While I ask them all about their lives and businesses, they don’t know that I’m not in some fancy office. They don’t know that I’m sitting on my couch in my pajamas and that I’m bald under my beanie.
This weekend I ventured outside voluntarily with boyfriend Manny. I was feeling good, so we went to the swap meet. Half way through the day, and at the furthest aisle possible from the bathrooms my stomach started to turn. Remember those digestion problems? I knew I had about 1.5 minutes before I was in big trouble (dare I say doodoo?). We made a bolt for the bathrooms and when we finally got there— with only seconds to spare— I took one look at the long stream of ladies waiting and was ready to commit to a nearby flower planter.
Manny, the angel that he is, went straight to the front of the line and dropped the cancer card.
He immediately waved me over and escorted me inside, all the ladies looking at me with big sympathetic eyes. I was wearing my wig, a hat and a cute outfit and from the outside I looked completely normal. I even thought that maybe I should nudge my wig off just a little, so they knew I wasn’t faking cancer. But one look in their eyes made me realize they believed me. They were rooting for me to make it to that toilet.
And I did.
I even got a story out of it.
Maybe cancer isn’t so boring. Maybe there is still something to talk about. Maybe I just need to look for it. Maybe I just need to get off the couch. Laugh it off. And tell the lunch lady a joke.
As seen on Keep-a-breast.org