My wise friend told me last week that she is going to make a T shirt for me that says, “Be careful what you you say to me. I might blog about you.” This conversation took place after I ranted for a few minutes about thoughtless things people say to cancer patients.
I had been on the phone last week with someone who wants to create a marketing plan for my blog to get it more exposure on the internet. He asked a few questions about my dreams for the blog (writing posts isn’t enough?). Then he launched into a conversation peppered with his view of cancer and cancer patients. He told me is 65 years old and has the body of a 40 year old, he works out for 2 hours a day, and he does ultimate mountain hikes. Then, he proceeded to tell me about his green drinks every morning, that his body that has not aged in 10 years, and his plan to live to the ripe old age of 105. This dissertation was followed up by advice on eating healthy and avoiding fast food, getting off the couch and being active, and taking the right supplements and micronutrients to overcome cancer. I could not get off the phone fast enough. As if that was not excruciating enough, he did a follow up phone call and replayed the same tape for me this week.
So, here is my truth. I ate at McDonalds last week with my debit card and it caused my bank to call me about fraud. My truth is I am as active as my body will allow me to be. I took a short mile walk before I sat down to write this. My truth is that I have been through four cancer diagnosis in seven years and my body is tired. My truth is that seven years of chemotherapy and treatment has aged my body decades. I have not slowed down the aging process. My body has kicked the aging process into overdrive and that makes me sad. But it also makes me grateful because I am still here. My truth I try not to think about how long I will live. I try to stay in a place of gratitude for this moment, this day. For it is what I have. Would I love to have a relatively healthy life to age 105? Of course! There is so much for me to do, knowledge to gain, so many ways I want to fulfill the purpose God has given me. But going there triggers a deep well of grief I would rather not revisit.
My truth is that when people talk to me about what cancer patients “should do”, it fertilizes the fear that lives inside me. Have I done enough to take care of my body? Is this something more out there that will magically give me the physical body I once so thoughtlessly took for grated? My truth is that when people talk to me about what cancer patients “should do”, it highlights the shame that lurks under it all. I become like those women who come up to me after a speech and whisper, “I have cancer too.” Their whispered confession carries shame that maybe they did something wrong or still are doing it wrong. My truth is that I am like everyone else on this planet. I try. Sometimes I fail. I try again. Sometimes my path is fairly straight and simple and sometimes it has twists that make my head spin. There may be something else I can do to overcome cancer in my body. But for this day, I will focus on overcoming the fear and shame that sometimes lives in my soul… and maybe ordering myself a new T shirt.