Thursday, March 4, 2010

Waiting for you to die...

When a diagnosis of this magnitude is received, something very subtle changes in peoples' perceptions of you. They expect you to die, and they are genuinely surprised when you don't. They ask how you are. If you reply "OK", or "good", then the response is "well, hang in there". So you must elevate the response to the superlative: "great!". How are you? Great! Really? Yes, really! Really, you're feeling OK? Yes, I am feeling great!
This does not happen during normal social interactions. This happens only after a cancer diagnosis.
Perception. Self-awareness. These elements are critical to health recovery. When someone accepts the poison of chemotherapy, the toxin causes their hair to fall out. They are immediately identified as a cancer patient. But they are actually a chemo patient. When they look in peoples' eyes, what they see is pity because people know that they will die. People start to distance themselves from the chemo patient; they are preparing for the inevitable loss, the death, the grief. Hair loss is a visual indicator that the chemo patient's body is toxic and out of balance. People expect that you will die because you likely will.
This is the difference between cancer and chemo. Chemo kills; cancer does not have to. It is a manageable disease. Choose "healthy living" over toxic treatments, and when you look in peoples' eyes, you will see normalcy, not sympathy.
I really enjoy meeting new people now, because I don't mention my recent health issue, and they treat me as if I was as normal and healthy as anyone else. And so I am.
Perception. Self-awareness. Huge in the recovery process. Think of yourself as being robustly healthy. Then others will too. And you will be robustly healthy.
Just say no to chemo.

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