The Louboutins have been discharged from the hospital and going out on the town!
Chemo done and boarded a plane back home for a quick jaunt to London to kiss my beau and then onto Paris for work. Sitting on the plane, I realized I had to apologize for being so self-centered for so long.
I mean it.
It’s all been about me and my shoes for more than six months and now it’s getting a bit boring. Enough already about the nausea and mouth sores and constipation – no one really wants to hear about that. It’s disgusting and boring.
In Paris, something small, but oh so telling, happened and I knew it was time to get out of my head. A friend and work colleague complimented me on my new haircut. I laughed off his comment in an awkward insecure way, “this thing on the top of my head…it’s a wig, duh.” He recoiled in horror and embarrassment and mumbled that he had no idea as he backed away.
Instead of just thanking him, I had to bring even more attention to myself by making him feel uncomfortable. I didn’t do it on purpose. It’s instinctual now. This person you see in front of you…it isn’t me but someone else who has cancer. It’s what I’ve been doing for months now. Time to accept that it is me and I will be going home soon to reactions such as the one in Paris. Time to be grateful for what I have, not what I have lost. (I did apologize to him!)
Yesterday, the doctor told me that my scan was nearly perfect and I am technically in remission – thus cancer-free. I will still need seventeen rounds of radiation…starting December 18 everyday except weekends and Christmas Day. The last hurrah. I am still scared to death but everyone has shit to deal with. Mine doesn’t trump anyone else’s.
Check out Tig Notaro’s situation to really understand: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/476/what-doesnt-kill-you?act=1
As I get closer to returning home for good, I have started to tell more people about what I have been going through for the last six months. Really so that I won’t have to explain my hair situation. Usually the conversation starts like this:
Me: Hi there…I have been away for six months because….blah blah blah..
Friend: Oh my god, I am so sorry I didn’t call you back two months ago!
Friend: You must have hated me when I complained about my cold, hip surgery, mother dying…whatever it is.
Let’s clear up something – it’s not a contest. As I said before, everyone has their own stuff to deal with. Either you are going through a divorce, have a sick or dying parent or child, out of work…everyone is dealing with something. I got dealt the cancer card. So did loads of my friends…one had testicular, one breast, one thyroid. They are doing fine. And then there is one of my dear friends who died almost two years ago from non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.
We just can’t waste time feeling guilty that we are alive, less sick, loved less or more than another person. It doesn’t do us any good. Guilt is what probably got me sick in the first place. I’m still doing it…look at the first words of my posting.
Better than that read this by Suleika Jaouad in her June 14th article for the New York Times: Life, Interrupted: Feeling Guilty About Cancer: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/14/life-interrupted-feeling-guilty-about-cancer/
“In the outpouring of love I’ve gotten since I began writing about my disease, guilt has never been too far away. Intermixed in the spectacular and candid messages of support, I’ve also received dozens of apologies from friends, classmates, and acquaintances who feel guilty for not being in touch or not realizing what I have been going through. Some people feel guilty just for being healthy when I am sick…I’ve learned that guilt is made less powerful when you confront it — writing about it, talking about it, bringing my fears and thoughts to the fore, out into the open. For me, the cure for guilt, to the extent that there is one, has been sunlight.”
Take a deep breath, look outside or down at your Louboutins…