Friday, July 6, 2012

Who Has it Harder...

There’s a subtle competition in CancerLand. It happens with both patients and caregivers. It’s called “Who has it Harder?” and it goes like this:

What kind of cancer does he have? Colon cancer? What stage? Stage 3. Oh, that’s too bad. My brother had stage three, and he had a total bowel reconstruction. Oh wow. He had a resection, colostomy for six months, then another surgery. Yeah. It’s hard isn’t it? He didn’t miss a day of work. Oh, he missed a year. I had to take six months off. Quit my job. Retired early. And I had my own scare. Breast cancer two years ago. Me too. Mastectomy? No, lumpectomy but a year of chemo. No chemo but lymphedema forever. Yeah. I can’t do anything anymore. He has….

Maybe it’s because our worlds shrink so much? Maybe the chemo works on our lives just as it does on the tumors?

How do we fight that? How do we not engage in “Who has it harder? Maybe it’s CancerLand small talk? I feel so small I have to make cancer bigger? Or maybe it feels so bad and we feel like no one else understands so we keep the focus on the only thing we now feel expert about.

How to step out of the game? Get a life? Surrender to win?


Dawn said...

Cancer Land small talk! I love that. Connection-seeking beings, we are all. Here's to a happy and healthy, relaxing and loving, weekend.

Anonymous said...

I somehow stumbled upon your blog looking for the last line of Bridge of San Luis Rey, thinking it might help me come up with a name for an adventure program for young adult survivors of childhood cancer.

As a childhood cancer survivor myself, this post resonated with me.

Kids always talk about their cancer with each other - because people with cancer "get it." It's not a misery contest. Although I do, from time to time, call people out on turning it into one.

We all live under Vesuvius. Welcome to Vesuvius.