Last night, I had a dream in which two women were making fun of my haircut and I said, “Hey, I have cancer!” Predictably, only one looked shamed, and the other seemed nonplussed. You’d think my own subconscious would be nicer to me.
But then, in my dream, I headed to a Mexican restaurant for margaritas and appetizers, so perhaps it was a form of apology from my REM sleep cycle. Sorry this lady conjured up was so inconsiderate; have some fried food that doesn’t count because you’re not actually eating it.
Sometimes, though, I do want to go around saying, “Hey, I have cancer! Be nice to me!” Yes, I would like to pull the cancer card to bully and shame people into being nice to me.
But then again, isn’t everybody going through something? Who am I to demand special consideration? Should I be allowed to lash out because things aren’t going the way I planned?
A few months ago, someone shared an article on Facebook titled “Let’s be gentle with each other. Let’s read each other’s signs.” The post was written by a woman whose husband suffered a traumatic brain injury that took six years to recover from, and during that time, she wanted to walk around with a sign telling people to be gentle with her because of what she was going through. She posited that we would treat one another differently if we all wore signs about what we were going through. (Hopefully.)
I do hate pulling the cancer card, so I try not to. Unless it’s because I want a seat on public transit. It’s often because I want to have a temper tantrum. Don’t we all have those days when we want to vent about life’s unfairness to then hypocritically demand special treatment? Maybe it’s just me.
On days like today, I do sink to lows, and something today made me want to throw a fit and let everything out in a flood of tears and angry words. (The type of angry words, by the way, that I think are stuck below my trachea and causing the abnormal PET scans.) So that’s why I’m writing it down here.
Today, someone told me that I wouldn’t be able to get the questions I needed answered for a story because the person was too busy. I was upset because it’s a day after my deadline and I sent the questions more than a week ago. Mostly, however, I was upset because I had cancelled by first post-chemo date with an oyster happy hour to finish this story tonight. Woe to the person who is responsible for coming between me and an icy platter of delicious $1 bivalves after months of separation.
This stuff happens all the time, so my personal reaction to this isn’t warranted. It’s unreasonable to think that this person thinks my time is less valuable. Yet I wanted to announce, “I rushed home after hearing that I might still have cancer and might have to spend three weeks in the hospital to interview the director of this program when I wanted to go home and cry.” I suppose that might have been a good thing, in retrospect, to have something constructive to do instead of wallow in self-pity and fear. I also wanted to say, “I spent hours working on this, already, and I just need five minutes from you.” But what I really wanted to say was, “I haven’t eaten oysters in months, and tonight was the only chance I had to eat them for $1 each this week, and I might need to have more chemo so my time to enjoy them is limited, and I am holding you personally responsible for this, though it is not your fault.”
But honestly, I don’t know what the person who can’t answer my questions is going through. I do know she’s extremely busy. And, after all, I’m the one with the cancer and the chemo restrictions and the hankering for oysters and the bad mood. While I haven’t actively thought about the disappointing PET scan results and the need for another biopsy, I’m extremely sensitive to the smallest disappointments.
I tried to cling to the positive after the news on Friday. It might not be cancer; it could just be inflammation. Also, I met with the doctor yesterday, and I found out the surgery isn’t very invasive at all and I don’t have to spend the night at the hospital. And it’s after Halloween, so my plans to be Heisenberg will not be foiled.
The surgery takes only an hour, so the chances of a full zombie outbreak while I’m out are very slim. My boyfriend told his dad about my fears, and his dad pragmatically responded, “That probably won’t happen.” For his recent birthday, my boyfriend’s dad got some sort of chainsaw on a stick, though, so that’s easy for him to say, since he has the perfect zombie-killing tool.
Also, I can get back to working out again, and hopefully I can lose the 10 or so pounds I’ve gained while being somewhat sedentary. But the surgery and the possibility of remaining cancer—not to mention some pretty intense-sounding treatments—have me a little down. The thought of heading out for $1 oysters like things were almost normal again made me smile, and so that’s why I was so disappointed today. It’s what they symbolized. I want to slip into a pool of self-pity and think, “Well, it’s not like I have good scan results to celebrate anyway, so I may as well spend the evening writing this.”
Although what’s more normal than having to cancel plans because someone didn’t meet a deadline? I guess that’s not the kind of normalcy I was seeking, but there it is.
I suppose if I had a sign right now, it could be summed up, “I’m sad and feeling sorry for myself and prone to irrational feelings. Please send oysters.”