10 Good Things About Having Breast Cancer
Well, I feel sort of like an asshole for my last couple of posts. I absolutely do want to give you the straight dope, but I don’t want to freak people out who are just starting treatment, or worse, be any part of someone forgoing chemo.
So, herewith, ten things that are GOOD about having breast cancer.
1. I discovered that I have so many more people that care about me than I thought. So, so many. Legions. I remember saying six months or so ago that if I threw a party, I’m not sure anyone would show up. Now I know that’s not so. And that is a precious feeling. That is eye-wateringly profound. Up there with “To my big brother George, the richest man in town.”
2. This has been an unusually hot summer in the Pacific Northwest, and my bald head keeps me nice and cool. Ahhhhh.
3. I have been amazed at the kindness of strangers and their courage in just asking. From the checker at the grocery store who leaned forward and said, “I didn’t know you were ill,” to the waitress at my favorite restaurant who asked “Are you having some kind of treatment?” and the gymnastics mom who sidled up next to me and said, “It looks like you’re going through something.” It’s totally okay to ask. It’s obvious that I’m bald. And I really do appreciate the concern. It means a lot to me.
4. The generosity of friends and acquaintances. I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s still amazing and I’m so very grateful. I’ve received so many thoughtful gifts, it’s just stunning. And some are from people I would never expect. Like friends of friends, or folks I’ve never met in meatspace. It’s crazy. Just yesterday I got this in the mail. I mean, GOSH! Thank you, Ms Nonymous!
5. The Pink Palace of Breast Cancer. And yes, I am talking about the pink ribbons and the pink everything and the whole month of October. I too, got super annoyed with Susan G. Komen and the Planned Parenthood debacle. And I felt mild outrage about pink products being sold when only a tiny fraction of the profit went to breast cancer research. But you know what I’ve learned? That shit WORKED. The “awareness” and the research money and all that? It’s why I’m going to be just fine instead of dead before the age of 50. Breast cancer has probably the most sophisticated and targeted therapies of any cancer now. Women are living because of this. So sneer all you want at that grody hue of ribbon, but it got the job done.
6. Not having to shave! I’ve mentioned this one before too, but my gosh, a whole summer of not even having to give a thought to the state of my legs is super awesome. Shorts? Sundress? Sleeveless top? ALL DAY EVERY DAY!
7. The encouragement I’ve received about this blog. I love hearing praise from, well, anyone, honestly! But the comments from women who are going through the same thing right now just KILL me. In a good way. They’ve said that they don’t feel alone now and that this is exactly how they feel….damn. What more could a writer ask for?
8. Watching my kid turn this into a laugh. “Show them your bald head, Mommy!” “That’s not her real hair. She’s bald from the chemo! Hahaha!” Well, how can you feel like a tragic figure when your six year old is busting your chops in public?!
9. The good days are SO good. When I feel energetic, or hungry, or nothing hurts? That’s some good shit. And I have learned to savor every single one. Will it last when Turdy is left in the dust behind me? I hope so.
10. The sisterhood of survivors. I can’t even tally up the network of ladies who have offered their phone numbers to chat anytime. Who have been through it and have served up real talk. Who donate books to every new BC patient at my surgeon’s office. Who tell me stories about their sister or their mom and just get it. Women can be nasty to each other, certainly. Humans in general can and will be shitty at times. But man, if I have to be a member of a club, I couldn’t find one more supportive and life-affirming than the breast cancer sorority.