When you are diagnosed with cancer, you, your family, your friends all immediately take a deep dive into research. Books, articles, blogs, doctors...the list is never ending. And they all start to sound the same at some point. One thing no one warned me about was that my entire life would slowly start to revolve around that word - cancer. Imagine being told you have to lose 100 pounds or you are going to die - and everyone around you talked about cupcakes, pizza, and soda. That doesn't happen. People know how to act around someone in that situation. But cancer....is different. That's all people seem to want to talk about. It's almost like you are a giant billboard for that damn disease.
Even years later - people feel obligated to talk to you about it. Just the other day I was eating dinner with a friend when this conversation came up....
Friend: "Did you hear about Olivia Newton John?"
Me: "No, what?" I said between chomping on the cauliflower crust pizza.
Friend: "Her BC came back. Shes been cancer free for 25 years."
Me: spitting out my cauliflower pizza "What?!"
I wasn’t shocked by the news, I was more freaked out that my friend who has been so intimately involved in my company, nightmares, etc would not recognize that this very statement is the absolute worst thing any cancer survivor could ever here.
Friend: "I just thought you would want to know. Because you are involved and this is your ... and she stammered…and this is your world...and and and…. "
She was mortified at the realization of what she had just done to me.
Me: Not wanting to disrupt the peaceful evening, the dinner, the mood, it was my natural instinct to say.. "It's ok that you are telling me this news, but I want you to know that you should NEVER share news like this to anyone else. This kind of shit is just devastating. Doesn’t matter how strong or how long has gone by. News that somebody’s cancer has come back is Never Ever good. Or helpful. I may be 16 years survivor but that doesn’t make me invisible. I’m sorry...hopefully, you will never know what it is like to be on the other side."
That. That right there is why I found myself in the gym so often. People didn't think I was sick when I was killing a run on the treadmill, or smashing the row machine. Heck - even with a wrap on my hairless head, people didn't see me as 'sick' instead I was working my ass off. That motivation and confidence was irreplaceable. Finally - I was no longer a poster woman for cancer. I was a motivator. Can you guess where I went right after this conversation?