It’s Wednesday, I know. But I had a topic for yesterday and I just didn’t get around to it. I’m a busy gal! I spent yesterday apartment searching in NYC in the rain and then I had to try (and fail) to pack for my trip to Italy and by the end of that, my thumbs were too tired to type. They were not too tired to hold an ice cream cone though.
In the beginning of this whole thang, I struggled with talking. Talking about my diagnosis, talking about what was going on, and especially talking about how I was feeling.
I’ve mentioned how it was hard to tell my friends because it was such unexpected news. Because how many people our age do we hear about getting diagnosed with it. I’ve also mentioned how telling them made me feel better, but that didn’t mean it was still hard.
I waited to tell people until the last possible minute. At the time I was diagnosed, it was also a time when people were starting new jobs and creating postgrad plans. Anytime I saw someone, it was always the same questions “when are you starting work?” “What are your plans?” “Did you get a job yet?”
If anyone asked me that a couple weeks before my diagnosis, I would’ve had an answer for them and they could’ve just thought that was what I was up to.
Instead, I lied. I said I was looking for a job and taking some time before then.
But for me, that was easier than telling someone what was actually going on. I didn’t want to have to deal with the questions or the puppy-dog eyed pity looks or the actual shock and disbelief that crosses people’s faces.
So I just didn’t talk about it. And I don’t know why.
I’m the type of person that just doesn’t like being felt sorry for. I don’t like attention. I also have a lot of pride. And I also feel the need to always be strong. I don’t really get emotional often, either. So just as I had done before, I stayed stoic and quiet. I held it in.
And even after I started the blog and everyone knew my little secret, I still felt that I had to stay hush-hush.
Even though I was literally putting myself out there for all to read about, if I met someone new or talked to someone at the clothing store I worked at, I never mentioned it. For the same reason I didn’t before, the looks, the questions, the thought that someone would change the way they thought about me.
Was I embarrassed? I don’t know. Why, WHY, why would I be embarrassed about something I couldn’t control? It wasn’t a choice I made, but for some reason that I really really hate, I thought this showed that I was weak.
It’s ridiculous. And I hate that I even had that thought. Because people who have to go through it and the shit that comes with it- the chemo, the hair loss, the bad taste, the weird aches and pains, the fear and the anxiety, the sunburn from going outside for 30 seconds without sunscreen, not being able to eat your favorite foods, the emotional roller coaster it takes you on, those people are the strongest people I know. I admire and look up to every person I have met this past year who has had to go through it.
And that’s why I can now talk about it. Cancer.
This past summer, I have found myself sharing my story with more and more people. Not because I am always talking about cancer, but more because people ask me about my hair or they ask me what I do or they say I’m so lucky I’m not working this summer. I was lucky I didn’t have to work full time this summer and that I wasn’t rushed into starting my job, but I had a pretty rough winter and fall, so I think I deserved it.
When I tell people, some of the time they don’t believe me. And I don’t blame them, but also like why would I make that up lol that’s just weird (look at you @VickiGunvalson and @Don). Other times I can see their facial expression change, but before it gets to full blown sympathy eyes, I say “BUT I BEAT IT!! I’M ALL GOOD” and then I get a hug or a hi-five, and one time, a drink at a bar (or two).
I talk about it now because it’s never really talked about. Cancer is SUCH a taboo I feel. Anything that has the potential to make someone uncomfortable is a taboo. So we just ignore it. I don’t do it to scare people, but the truth is, young adults can get cancer. And we should listen to our bodies when something doesn’t seem right. Senior year for my oncology class we had to make brochures about certain cancers and I got testicular cancer. I literally put “GO AHEAD AND TOUCH YOURSELF!” in big bolder font, because sometimes you gotta do a little fondling to find a lump. Idk.
I want to be an advocate. I enjoy connecting with other young people who are going through chemo or who have been given a cancer diagnosis because sometimes you just need someone who gets it. I had my saving grace, Sara, who pretty much told me everything there is to know about losing my hair. And she gave me a tip of eating sour patch kids when getting chemo that seemed to help me out. I like passing on the knowledge I’ve unfortunately had to acquire, like how lemon water helped with my nausea. And I want to be the person someone else can complain to when shit just sucks. To put it lightly.
Cancer isn’t outwardly part of my every day life. It doesn’t consume me because I don’t let it. But it is part of who I am and always will be. For some time I hid this huge part of my life for whatever reason, but now I’m comfortable talking about it and telling people. Because it’s not and never will be something to be ashamed or embarrassed of. I think I’m the baddest bitch for kicking cancer’s butt. And I think I’m allowed to think that. And then tell you about it. And then you think it too. So let’s talk about it!!!
I’m leaving for Italy tomorrow, so I won’t be writing next week because I’ll be too busy stuffing my face with pizza, pasta and gelato. And I’m not sorry. Arrivederci!!!!!!!!