1. Nobody tells you about Sad Face, Oh-Isn't-She-Brave Face, and their corollaries.
Friend Lara and I were corresponding about this the other day: every person you tell you have cancer puts on a Face. It could be Sad Face, or the OISB Face, but there's a Face that goes with the diagnosis. I suppose it's a natural reaction; hell, if I had told me I had cancer, I would've looked pretty sad at the news. Still, you start steeling yourself for it.
Perhaps the best facial expression I've seen came from Ginny, the Highly Inappropriate Chaplain. She peered down at me from her tremendous height and squinted one eye and screwed up her mouth, and I started laughing so hard I could barely breathe.
2. The words, "You're so brave" and "You're so tough" get really old.
I know it's a compliment, and I know I should be thankful....but you know what? I'm not really all that brave. This is what it is, and I'm just putting one foot in front of the other, living in a state of combined denial and narration. Every test I have I'm scared to the teeth. I wake up in the middle of the night feeling a tightness in my neck and wonder if that's yet another lymph node. There is a little, quiet voice in the back of my mind that reminds me that I just might die if I'm incredibly unlucky.
I am not brave. You do what you have to do in this situation. You can only be po-mouthed about it for so long; then you realize that the dishes--even if you have cancer--are not going to do themselves, so you do them.
3. It does not go away.
Even for five minutes. I managed to forget, day before yesterday for a whole thirty seconds, that I have cancer. That's the best I've done in three weeks.
4. Discipline can go out the window, if you let it. This is bad.
Bottle of champagne and cheap-ass carnitas from the tamale cart for dinner? Sign me up! That's one reason I'm having a combined mental and physical health day off today. And believe me when I tell you that I woke up this morning and realized that yes, I might have cancer, but that doesn't give me license to treat my body like shit in the guise of making myself feel better.
It's understandable how some people go off the rails. Still, you can't spend every minute from diagnosis to cure running amok; never mind the ramifications for treatment, who wants to live hung over *and* with cancer? I'll take just the cancer, please, without the side of herk bleh.
5. You never realize how many friends you have until....
Friend Lara said, "Is it just me, or are you feeling huge amounts of love too?"
Yeah, I am. It's humbling as hell, you know? If I were to stand outside myself, I'm not sure I would like me very much--but then, I know all the nasty little linty, dark corners of my own soul. Apparently I hide them from other people well enough, or overcompensate for them well enough, that outsiders think I'm okay.
And the quality of your friends becomes apparent, too. Nurse Ames has been fantastic through all of this, as have Stoya and the Boss Man and Kiva and all the rest of the people I work with. Not everybody can drive me to and from appointments like Ames does; Stoya, for instance, is not a warm-fuzzy type. She still sends me texts, though, that say things like "How's yer trap?" and "Dead yet?" You need both kinds of friends when you're going through this, and I'm lucky to have them.
6. You're still an asshole, even if I have cancer.
If I couldn't find it within me to like you before, I am unlikely to change my opinion of you now that I have this diagnosis. See "Sanchez, Rick" and "Armey, Dick" for details.
7. I'm still an asshole, even if I have cancer.
And you know what? It's okay to call me on it. I've said before that being sick tends to make people more of what they are, down deep; sometimes, that means you're a bigger asshole than you ever were well. You can get mad at me, as Lara says; it's not going to break me or make me sicker. It's okay to treat me like a normal person. I am not Ma's little china lady on the shelf Pa carved back in the Big Woods.
And that is all for now. I'm going to go repair the damage to the kitchen that the Parkour Kitties did last night--Frog Himself only knows what they were chasing, but it must've been very exciting. Then yardwork and laundry and reading something interesting and shopping for a small television (no, the world's not ending) with DVD player and maybe a shower later.
I'm going to have a nice, uncancery day today.