My default setting is flippant. We all have one, and that’s mine. It doesn’t mean I don’t get it, or that I’m not scared. I do and I am, but my coping mechanism is to find humour where I can. It’s not even a conscious thing, I wish it was as I’ve landed myself in trouble by saying the wrong thing too many times.
Whenever you hear the word cancer you shudder, everyone does. It’s also almost completely impossible to get away from it. It’s bloody everywhere. Race4Life, Shine, Moonwalk, Dry Everysoddingmonth. billboards, tv ads, radio ads, FB sidebars. You can’t run, there is no hiding, and that’s just the organisations trying to cure it. It’s a scary place for the newly diagnosed. It’s scary for everyone but if you’re not in the rather unfortunate position of being investigated or diagnosed you can shy away, avoid looking it in the eye, and hope like hell that it doesn’t see you. Or was that just me?
Then, for some of us, that changes. It really fucking is you, and not in a good way. I hate crying in front of people, I don’t care if they don’t mind, I hate it. I don’t want to do it. I want to lick my wounds in private. Push that box of Kleenex towards me one more time and I’m going to bash you over the head with it. That’s just me. Other people prefer the huggy approach and that’s what makes it bloody impossible for anyone to say or do the right thing. I’m now strongly of the opinion that the best thing to do is ask. “Are we talking about this or just giving it a nod (quick hug/pat on the back) and carrying on as normal?”
I’ve cried my way through walking the dogs, almost wet myself in fear walking towards the operating theatre. I preferred when they wheeled you there on a bed, it’s all sorts or wrong to make you walk into a place where they’re going to chop bits off. Carrying that pillow. I shook in fear when the nurse on the day ward told me not to wait to do anything, that I should “Live for today, you never know what tomorrow will bring” 10 minutes after finding out the cancer had reached my lymph nodes and I was heading for more surgery and then chemo. Turned out she had no idea, “Oh, I say that to everyone love” when I told her she was scaring me. Hopefully she’s stopped doing that.
After all of that, normal life carries on. it seems impossible, but it does. I’d never have believed that refereeing squabbling kids would be a relief. Okay, that might be pushing it a bit, especially since they are now both bigger than me and it’s only a matter of time until a foot goes through the fish tank, mid fight, and immortal fish meets his end (Toby the cat is ever hopeful). I’d be more worried about that if immortal fish hadn’t eaten his (her? how do you tell with a fish?) partner and every pretty fantailed tank mate years ago.
Resolutions to live a healthy life get a bit boring. I did Google wine & chemo which took me to such a brilliant online fight that I had 2 glasses instead of the one I’d allowed myself. Fuck it, ok, I finished the bottle. It was a very good fight though. I decided to give up eating meat instead. There were no good online fights relating to chemo and burgers. Also, I like wine more than meat.
I’ve sort of settled into a life of vegetarian alcoholism, with a few side orders of snake oil.