Recently I went through a harrowing ordeal with my health. I started having some minor problems that were more annoying than painful. These grew to be more than a nuisance, so I went to my physician and she ran a few tests. I waited for the results, feeling hopeful, but all of the tests came back negative. There are some times when you actually pray that it’s just an infection that can be easily cured with a prescription. This was one of those times for me. Since it wasn’t something as benign as an infection it meant it was a mystery to be solved. So I got to hear the word “specialist” for the umpteenth time in my life. I really hate hearing that word because every other time it’s ended as a stay in the hospital after surgery.
Finding a specialist when you live on an island is next to impossible. Finding one that can see you right away, as opposed to in six months, is yet another hurdle to jump over. Finally I spoke with a sympathetic scheduler and she got me in to see her doctor the next day. That was a major accomplishment! I was on my way to discovery.
When the doctor started doing her work-up and recording my history, the fact that I had smoked in the past seemed to be something she got stuck on. Actually, she wasn’t stuck on it, she was concerned that my problems were…cancer. I really hate hearing that word too. According to a scale she uses to determine sort of a diagnosis, or to make a plan how to diagnose, my history of smoking was working against me in a big way.
Once the word was said, it was repeated over and over and over again. Cancer. Cancer. Cancer. Cancer. Finally I asked if we could stop using that word so much and she smiled at me. If I had cancer, I would need to get used to saying and hearing the word. But until then I was fine not hearing it at all.
Another appointment was made to conduct more invasive tests.
It was a week away.
I sat with the possibility that I had cancer for five days. I thought about cancer over that weekend. I thought about treatments. I thought about my family and my friends. Would I share this with them? Would I suffer in silence? How would I spend those days? And what if I was past the cure cutoff date?
What if cancer was going to cut my life short?
I thought about how much I love my husband and how I would want to spend every second I could with him. I thought about making his transition easier and if I had to have treatment, I thought about ways I could alleviate as much stress on myself and on him as possible. I have never been a great patient. I’m a better nurse.
But you know what I didn’t think about?
I vaguely know a woman just from Facebook that has had a cancer diagnosis a half dozen times. She brags that she doesn’t have any body parts left that can be removed because they’ve all been removed from past cancers. I felt sorry for her and wished her the best, until I realized that she carries her cancer as if it’s permission to be mean and ugly to other people.
I have seen some bad behavior in my days, but nothing like this. It was the day I read yet another post denigrating someone for having an opinion that differed from hers that I read that she hoped the people that didn’t like her never had to hear the words “You have cancer.” Then she kind of made a smug remark. What the hell?!
It almost sounded like a threat.
Who does that?
One of my dearest friends responded to this woman and said the kindest words that I am stubborn enough to say she didn’t deserve. She gently reminded this bitter woman that she had cancer and instead of fighting imaginary demons and telling lies about it, perhaps she should spend more time loving the life she had left. She also reminded her that she herself was a cancer survivor. No one has the market cornered on cancer.
No gets a pass to take a crap on others just because they’re sick.
Here’s what I didn’t think about…
I didn’t think about any of the folks that have hurt me in the past. Why would I waste precious time on people that already proved they could hurt me?
I didn’t think about how I could get revenge, or perhaps tell them off. Why would anyone bother? You’re sick and need to surround yourself with positivity and love, not with hatred and bitterness.
I didn’t think about how I could use my illness to garner leniency for being nasty to people, or for elbowing someone in the gut just because they made me feel jealous or dark, or helpless, or less than human. After all, no one can make you feel anything. All of that venom comes from within. You are simply putting out into the Universe all that your own heart holds.
I didn’t think about preaching to anyone about my illness or asking for pity.
I seriously considered keeping my health issues private and, quite frankly, I think that if you’re going to use your illness to grandstand with a holier than thou attitude, maybe you should consider shutting the fuck up.
I don’t have cancer.
I don’t have cancerous cells running amok in my body, but more importantly, I am not a cancer on society.
There isn’t a handbook on how to be sick, or how to have cancer. We all do the best we can with what we have and are taught. The one thing I do know deep in my heart is that if that day ever comes I will hold myself and the ones in my life that I love and cherish, in a place of loving and peaceful grace. It will be the best cure for cancer anyone could ever have.
This is Madeline Laughs and I’m here to shine the light of love right backatcha for a very long time. ❤