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I SO understand the searching look when people ask, "How ARE you?" And no, it is not a casual social question, is it? It seems more to be a gauge rating on the How much longer do you have before I won't recognize you? scale.
Yes, Tiara, you are a survivor until you are not any longer, but in reality aren't we all survivors? From conception and birth we all have a terminal illness called life and none of us gets out alive. The trick is just to put as much distance between birth and death as we can.
Unclean? Damaged? And you kept your ilness a secret? My, I must be odd. I've heard similar remarks from others also. About half way thrugh my first series of chemotherapy my husband asked what the doctors had done to me. When I asked what he meant, he explained that I used to be so quiet and didn't say much. But further into the maze of treatments and learning the language of cancer, he saw a big change.
First went a small amount of modesty, as in, the breast is no longer there, "wanna see the scar?" to some close friends, then it was talking about my cancer in a very personal experience kind of way. Then I found out that the more I talked, the more people wanted to know and understand as most had relatives and friends that had gone through cancer and they didn't know what to do. I ran into people that hadn't had a mammogram in a number of years and made it a crusade of sorts to ecourage them (or even frighten the stuffing out of them if they resisted) to get an appointment set. I felt as though I was finally finding a voice. Three years of almost yelling at people to help themselves out by taking better care of themselves. Then Stage IV.
Suddenly I saw a big difference. People seemed back to not knowing what to say or do so they avoided the subject. Denial is a great coping mechanism when they're dealing with unfamiliar and frightening situations and my Stage IV cancer was the 800 pound gorilla in the room. They don't want to hear that there is no Stage V, or that I will probably slowly (better than quickly) start going downhill at any time. They don't want to invest any time building a friendship I may not live long enough to enjoy or appreciate, in their estimation.
Your problem word is "survivor". Mine is a sentence, "But you look so GOOD!" I've rolled my tongue around some pretty tart replies to that one but, so far, I've been able to keep them to myself. I do hope that my cancer will stay away from my brain or the abiity to keep my brain and mouth in their proper gears might get disconnected and then look out!
The first thing I would suggest to you is to understand that you are guilty of nothing! Cancer, for all the hype, is pretty much the luck of the draw as to who gets hit and who doesn't. I sense that you are embarrased to expose yourself to something connected to cancer and I, personally, don't agree with that. Might there be a connection between that and the feeling of being "damaged"? As long as you are alive and able to interact with others, hold your head up high. You have been shoved into a battle against something you did not ask for and you're holding your own. Just keep it up. You won't get sugary phrases out of me, I tell things like they are and you, dear, have nothing to be ashamed of!
Logicat...I luv how you put things and with that attitude you will be around for a long long time ...
Im soooooo glad that we can and are able to share what we think and feel and ask questions and no longer have to keep things like a cancer diagnosis secret unless that's how one wants to deal with it, but no longer have to keep it a secret because thats how society handled it in the old days.....now you have it covered on TV, in the newspapers, on Radio, on the internet and all sorts of places you can go for advice, help, support, so that if and when you are ready to talk you know you arent alone.....the more we can share the more we can learn from others and learn more about ourselves in the process...