You know who you are. You’ve got cancer. You’re in treatments, or you’ve finished treatments and now you wait. You’re missing things, like your hair, your breasts, a big chunk of an organ, or a limb. Your kid’s piano recital or lacrosse game or back-to-school night. Work. The final season of “The Good Wife” or any televised sporting event, because you can’t stay awake long enough to watch the whole thing. Important stuff and not-so-important stuff, but together, it’s the stuff that makes up your life as it once was.
And you don’t feel like you’re any bit of those things that people have called you since you were diagnosed:
Not today anyhow, or maybe even this week. Sure, you started out all gung-ho about kicking cancer’s ass, but that was back in the beginning when you had no clue about what was going to happen to you. Yes, you knew you had to have chemotherapy or radiation or surgery or a combination of two or three of them. But you didn’t really know. You didn’t know what it would feel like when the radiation burns your skin and makes it hard to swallow. Or when the chemo leaves sores in your mouth and renders you so weak, you can’t walk up a flight of stairs without a break. Or when the stitches from your surgery itch or pop or ooze.
Or when your kids ask you not to come to their soccer game because your headscarf or the way you sit under a blanket and sometimes, nod off, embarrasses them.
Or when you don’t have the energy to get through a full day at work or even the weekly status meeting.
Or when your doctor casually mentions some horrifying statistic about your cancer that you didn’t know.
Or when you run into acquaintances who beam, “You look goooood!” leaving the “considering you’re going through hell” part unspoken. Or worse, when they don’t say a thing.
Or when you overhear your significant other tell someone that you just aren’t the same person anymore. Which is the worst of all, because though it’s true that you don’t feel like the same person anymore, you thought you were doing a decent job of pretending.
Welcome, Mere Mortals of Cancer. Welcome to where we’ve all been, because, when you’ve got cancer, it’s impossible to always be
Sometimes, it’s impossible to be any or all of these things for days, weeks, even years. Because beneath each brave, strong, inspirational, fighting, surviving cancer hero is a mere mortal with fear. Understandable, normal, expected fear. And hurt, and loneliness, and fatigue, and anger, and doubt. Being a cancer hero doesn’t mean pretending that you don’t feel any of these things, though there are plenty of people around you who would rather you smile and put up the good fight, because it makes them feel better. But true heroes let these feelings flow through them, acknowledging and validating them with a “no wonder I feel this way. If you don’t feel this way when you have freakin’ cancer, when can you feel this way?”
You’re a hero just by being a mere mortal, no matter how you feel about it all today. You’re a Mere Mortal of Cancer.
PHOTO CREDIT: Ricky John Corey, 123rf.com