Positively something

Before we get into the weeds, it occurs to me that I don’t usually post updates on my health status like most other cancer bloggers do.

It feels a little like boasting to announce “Look at me! I’m NED!” (See Introvert below.) As if something I did is the reason for my good fortune. Especially when there are people who aren’t doing so well. When I read so-and-so’s blog about how superb her care is (best oncologist in the country) and what a fighter she is and how her oncologist is simply amazed at her progress (never seen anything like it), I always think about the person who might be reading who isn’t doing so well and who doesn’t have access to superb care, but who is desperately looking for answers or comfort.  I don’t know.  Just me, I guess.

I read a lot of cancer blogs.  Once I decide I like the blog and will keep reading — trust me, there have been some that don’t make it past the first sentence — I always look for a timeline of the author’s cancer.  And, naturally, I compare it to my experience. I don’t know if other people with cancer do this. Probably. We’re all looking for answers. For comfort.

Anyway, I’ve opened my big mouth so I guess I have to report that my last scans in March, 18 months out from treatment, showed continued NED (no evidence of disease).  According to my oncologist, the median survival for my kind of cancer with treatment is 15 months.  So, I’m lucky. I’m still here. And I’m  doing fine.  This moment, this hour, this day.

Now, let’s carry on with some of my curmudgeonly insight…

*******

One of the features of being an introvert is that you’re not inclined to share every little thing that happens in your life — or even every big thing that happens in your life.

Like cancer.

As a result, relatively few people who know me outside of this blog or who know me but don’t know about the blog are aware I have cancer.  The few times I told people was when I was bald to answer questioning looks at my head, or on a need-to-know basis.

By so few people knowing I have lung cancer, I’ve been able to avoid the two utterances That Might Make Me Hit Somebody One of These Days:

 1. “Did you smoke?”
 2. various forms of the Positive Attitude TM admonition, which, IMO, is quickly gaining steam as the most annoying of the two utterances and may dictate greater injury.

I’ve never had anyone ask me the first to my face — but you know they’re thinking it — which I can attribute to knowing people with common sense and good manners. Or it could be that I’m just not around that many people and it’s the law of averages.

The second one I have though. It came from an acquaintance scolding, “Well, I can see someone needs an attitude adjustment!” after I mentioned that the prognosis for someone with lung cancer was grim.  If she hadn’t been on the other end of a phone line, I might have punched her.

To be realistic about your cancer is not the antithesis of being positive.  You can be positive and realistic at the same time.

See, here’s the thing.  Cancer makes people afraid.  Afraid of getting it, afraid of the grief, afraid of their own mortality.  So they throw up that screen to warn you that they’re afraid by deflecting their fear back onto you either by blaming (“Did you smoke?”) or by meaningless counsel (You’ll beat this!  Just be positive!).

Which brings me to the point of this post:  This article about things not to say to someone with cancer and some recommendations for things you can do.

********

I’ve never seriously wished cancer on anyone.  But this guy might make me reconsider.  “Mo.”  Must be short for Moron.

Stay positive!

11 Replies to “Positively something”

  1. After my breast cancer diagnosis, someone very dear to me said, “Lots of people have it. They get over it.” She didn’t understand that lots of people also die from it. Someone told me to drink green tea. I hate tea and unless there was research, I wasn’t going to follow every unfounded theory out there. A dear (and gone) friend had a very bad abdominal cancer. She went to the Gerson clinic and did that grueling treatment. She died 6 months later. It gave her hope for several months but it’s a hard diet to follow along with the enemas. I wished that she had enjoyed the foods that she loved for the last months of her life but no one knows if something will help. I am happy for you! Good news is the best.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I figured you could relate, Kate, and I was hoping you’d comment.

      That was an awfully cruel thing for someone to say to you. It’s hard to forgive unless you remember that it’s fear speaking. And even then.

      Thanks for your insight.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I guessed she was trying to make me feel better. I learned a lot during that time. Some friends, really good friends, never came around or called. One distant sorta friend send huge flowers. People don’t know what to say or do.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I am always amazed by people who think dealing with something incredibly complex is something amateurs should do. If green tea could fix cancer, we probably wouldn’t have giant cancer treatment centers. Also, the blame thing. I think that’s just a way to protect oneself — you know, I don’t smoke so I won’t get lung cancer but you did and you did. People are scared. I get that. But I don’t think it’s an excuse for being a knob.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. NED: lovely words to hear or read. You’re not bragging, just stating facts. 😉

    I followed both links and I’m infuriated by Rep. Mo Brooks. He was even more of a jerk when he tried to justify his remarks. I keep thinking ” buddy, life will humble you where you are most proud” and apparently he’s proud of his health because he’s “led a good life.”
    Newborns with birth defects, children with genetic health issues? Where are they on your righteous scale?

    And don’t get me started on the positive thinkers.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Congratulations on a great scan! Fingers crossed that you continue to evade the beast.

    I say stuff all the time to the people I love that clearly indicates I don’t expect to be around more than maybe a few years more, if I’m lucky. I made some kind of a mortality faux pax last night while eating dinner with hubby, daughter & SIL, and my daughter commented that she preferred to hang on to at least some denial. My hubby and I have frank talks all the time, though, and mortality shapes many of my decisions. I am calm, happy, in love with life, and very realistic.

    I’m also living this out in public. I’ve always been an open person, so this is just part of who I am. It turns out it’s kind of good for other people. A friend who just went through grueling treatment of head & neck cancer told me that a chance encounter on the street post-diagnosis and pre-treatment took away all his fear of what was to come when he saw me looking well and enjoying life.

    All this is just me being me, and you gotta be you. People can be open or private about their cancer, it’s totally up to them, and I honor all personal choices.

    Just to let you know, I treasure your blog. We need curmudgeons.

    Anita

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Anita. I think there’s a need for curmudgeons, too. We’re a resource just waiting to be tapped! Curmudgeons Unite!!!

      I’m alway so pleased for you when I read all the things you’re doing (not to mention the awards, you rock star!). I love how you’re embracing the life you have and I delight that you share that joy with others by spreading the knowledge you’ve gained about cancer treatment and survivorship.

      Cancer patients SHOULD talk about their mortality. I certainly do. Because it’s the driver for how I grow with the I have left. And I know you understand that, too.

      Liked by 1 person

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