I was walking with a long-time friend discussing the ups and downs of life with cancer. We got around to the topic of being honest with people, even if it causes upset, offense or worse–dissention among family ranks. I confirmed that as I strive to lighten my emotional load and focus on winning my fight with cancer, I’ve had to be honest with folks in my life–and it’s caused flack and resentment to some people that I love. Which stinks.
“Your cancer,” my friend suggested, “has given you a voice. It’s let you say what you didn’t before–for all the reasons the rest of us don’t.” “Like?” I asked. “Like– ‘she’s just that way’ or ‘they’re never going to change’–you know, the stuff we all do to just survive as we age. But you can’t do that sh-t anymore. You gotta cut out the crap.”
I shook my head in agreement. I can’t prove her theory but it sounds right to me–I mean I’ve never heard of people being cured of horrible diseases by sitting around letting other people dump on them and being okay with it. Cancer has pushed me to look at things I didn’t like in my relationships and say “whoa! That’s gotta stop.” It was true…
but it was only half of the truth.
“This is gonna sound weird,” I said to my old pal, someone with whom I’d shared Barbies and eaten Spaghettios once upon a time, “But it’s not just that it’s given me a voice. Cancer has made people listen to my voice, too.”
I didn’t want to give a malicious disease any kind of kudos there. Let’s face it: cancer’s a monster, a killer, a heartless thief. But I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that it’s also given me a perverse form of clout. Before when I tried to “be myself” or “stop the insanity” of my world, it always came back to bite me in the -ss. People always pushed their way back into the places that weren’t comfortable for me. And I let them.
Now I am sick, I am really sick–and there’s been a bit of a parting of the Red Sea. It’s bizarre–a strange, warped wide berth that I’ve gotten as a cancer person. Why? Who knows. Maybe because people can’t make cancer do or be anything. It can’t be intimidated, reasoned with, changed, ignored, bartered with or uninvited to Christmas dinner. It’s coming, it’s here, and it’s not going anywhere–whether I, you or they like it or not. It’s the bully in the room. And nobody’s making it stop.
Except me. I’m making it stop. I’m going to make it stop. Cancer can and will kiss my -ss. I promise that.
That being said, I gotta say–this is not the best way to evolve as a human being. I’d vote for 10 years on the psychiatrists’s couch all day long learning how to beat off the narcisists in my world than get a life-threatening disease as a means to grow sanely with relationships in a life. But I wasn’t asked which choice I’d like to have. I have a disease–and I’m living with it.
And I’m learning that everyone else has to live with it too–and all the changes it brings–the good, the bad and the emotionally upsetting. Ultimately it’s making for a life less burdened, and that’s good for me, one way or the other.
So if you smell something funky around me, don’t panic–it’s not the cancer. It’s the flack and resentment that’s being caused by a life, my life, coming into its own–
Which of course, stinks for some. It’s a necessary stench, mind you–and for those of you who hate this smell, and I know who you are–I get it, it stinks. I know it does….
But it has to. Hell, my life may depend on it.