I’ve never really been someone who suffers through the week just to finally get to have fun on the weekend, but these days, I’m extremely happy to see Friday arrive.
Friday means another week of radiation complete. Friday means a two-day break from treatments. Friday means a break from the driving and traffic. Friday means a rest for my skin. It also means yoga class with Briana at Oncology Rehab. So, TGIF!
I am now finished with 18 of 30 treatments. I saw the radiation oncologist today. He said that my skin looks great considering where I am in treatment and the dose that I’m getting. That was good to hear.
I recently met a woman who was undergoing radiation at the same time as I. Today was her last day. In all, she had two weeks longer than I will have. She has a very positive attitude, and I will miss seeing her every day. But I’m so happy for her to be finished. As I said goodbye to her today, she said that she wants to have me and several other breast cancer patients or survivors over to lunch at her house.
While that sounds lovely, and I’d love to meet some new people, these situations always cause me to hesitate. It’s not that I’m anti-social, but I have found that patients/survivors can be some of the most negative, fear mongering people I’ve met! Not all, mind you. (Not you Jess, Patty or Kris 🙂 ) But more than you’d think! Two patients could have the same type of breast cancer, the same doctors, the same treatment and the same schedule but have completely different outcomes based on initial health, attitude, support, and their individual response to treatment. So, I don’t get why people say things that they do.
Survivor: You’ll be a mess by the end of radiation. (This actually happened, btw.)
Me: Would you look at the time! It’s nearly … NOON, and I really must go sort my forks! (This did not.)
I think what happens is that once a patient goes through her experience with breast cancer, she begins to feel like the expert. And she is — for herself. But there are so many variables from person to person that even doctors don’t say things with as much certainty as some patients! It goes beyond certainty, though. It really is a fear mongering. Warning against certain doctors, certain treatments, detailing their tribulations with reconstruction and so much more. I wish that survivors would simply say that they hope treatment is going well and they are willing to (mercifully) answer any questions I might have.
The second reason I hesitate to attend the aforementioned lunch is because I don’t want “Breast Cancer Friends.” Not that I won’t be friends with people who’ve had breast cancer. That’s not my point. My point is that I need to have a friendship based on a lot more than a shared illness. That’d be like having the “Bald Men’s Club” and assuming all bald men will join up and be great friends because their fellow club members understand the trials of having no or little hair. That’s not how it works. I think it can actually be a dangerous concept, honestly. It’s hard to celebrate your status as “cancer free” when someone in the group has been told that they’ll never be cancer free because the disease has metastasized. Or when someone in the group wants to discount someone else’s experience with cancer because “SHE didn’t even have chemo!” Honestly, I do not want to win the “I had it the worst” contest.
Because I’m a person who likes to enter into a situation with positivity and hope, I will go the lunch. But I will be sure to have slick feathers so the comments will roll off like water off a duck’s back, if need be. It’s a tactic I’ve had to employ more now than ever. And maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.