An Aha Moment

bitmoji158916047When I discovered that I never really understood!

I went to visit my best friend the other day and came to the realization that while I thought I understood what she has gone through in her life, it is not until now that I can really understand.

My friend, not yet 55, lives in a nursing home. She has advanced Multiple Sclerosis and it has been many years since she was able to work, walk, drive, etc.  She has dealt with so many losses due to MS as well as struggles in terms of services and financials.

I remember  all the hassles she had with forms for disability coverage when she was first forced to stop working. I was reminded of it while filling out forms for salary continuation and had a new understanding of just what she dealt with. Given the “protestant work ethic” which was ingrained in our generation, it is demoralizing to write on paper that you are unable to do your job!

Another thing I have realized we now have in common has to do with people’s automatic reaction to us. Her disability has almost always been visible and I remember seeing people’s various reactions to her when we were out shopping or for a meal. While some people seemed uncomfortable, the main reaction seemed to be pity.

I didn’t really think of cancer as being visible, but the fact that I have almost no hair seems to work like a neon sign over my head blinking “cancer patient!” I remember the first time when a woman came up to me before yoga class with a sympathetic look on her face and told me that she understood, she had gone through chemo too. I felt really uncomfortable that day, somehow like my privacy was violated.

Most of the time I don’t think about cancer…though I guess it may seem like I do based on writing about it. So there I am in a store thinking about what I need or whatever, make eye contact with another shopper and there it is, the sadness, pity, or whatever. The, “Oh, you have cancer!” look flashes across their faces and at first I wonder what is wrong. Do I have something on my face, or in my teeth? Then I realize what it is, oh yeah, cancer. Thanks for the reminder!”

4 thoughts on “An Aha Moment

  1. Thanks for sharing your writing Cathy, I love hearing your perspective and seeing your personality in what you say. Makes me smile every time, even when you are describing the tough stuff. You somehow shine through it all 🙂

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    1. True, sadly it isn’t possible to tell the difference and most of the time you just want to be yourself and not the diseased you. Does that make sense? Thanks for the support 🙂

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  2. I remember when one of my colleagues lost his wife to prolonged battle with cancer. He organized a memorial service for her several weeks later and made the point that, to many people, it seemed like cancer defined her and all her relationships with her family and friends. But he explained that, to him, it was’t cancer that he remembered and treasured. It was all the wonderful times they had, the laughter and excitement with the little things. I was reminded of this when I read your blog just now. I pray that all of us see beyond and inside those who show outward signs of illness or disease.

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