Cancer, Rage, And The Elephant In The Room

I certainly have no need to post my life’s drama on FB. It’s an adolescent, vain excuse for communication, especially on serious matters. Some folks, however, just can’t help but broadcast their life stories to anyone who will listen, and God forbid they would disagree. But anger and rage are and always have been your default modes. I especially can’t stand self-serving cancer dramas, after watching someone like (Name Withheld) die from breast cancer with so much class and dignity and privacy, never a harsh word to anyone, or anger about her condition. Broadcasting it simply empowers the illness, not unlike the media inundating the public with stories about yet another mass American shooting. And really, not that many people give a shit, deep down, because people get cancer and survive cancer and die from it everyday. It’s an old story no matter who tells it.

I received this from a family member the other day. They were in a lot of pain and evidently my attempt to help and console was interpreted as an attempt to harm. I’m really sorry they feel this way. Sort of. This is just an example of the poison they’ve tried to feed me for over four decades. I used to eat that shit up. It began when I was young and very impressionable. It has taken me YEARS to let go of the words that have been said to me, to change my beliefs about myself that were partially formed by this person’s hatred and poison towards me. Where were my protectors? In Denial. Evidently it IS a river in Egypt.

Did I buy it this time? No. It’s poison of the worst kind and in no way does it reflect who I am. But it sure does reflect who they are. Did it hurt me? Fuck yes. OW. Have I lost sleep over it? I confess I have and last night was no exception. Not because it’s true but simply because they really intended to harm me and that hurt. And I’m losing other people because they are “on their side” of the battle zone. Collateral damages. Will I get over it? Yeah, I will, but there will probably always be a residual pang twang when their name comes up in conversation. I don’t intend to speak with them again but you never know. Things can, and do, change. All the time. But for now my answer is “when hell freezes over and my ass releases pure gold.”

The person who died from breast cancer was never told she was dying according to this person so I’m not impressed by her dignity but appalled by the nerve of her family to lie to her. (If it’s true. This person is a pathological liar.) Evidently she was not told by her doctor and not by her family who insisted that she not be told of her reality. We don’t do shit like that in my world. How fucking dare you think that breast cancer patients should shut up and bear it and not be told their situation. And that that defines dignity! Fucking medieval I tell you. And fuck you too.

This person can say in one minute that they love me and in the next that I’m unlovable. I think they are one of the most damaged people I know. Of course a person full of secrets and their own rage and anger would think hiding their feelings is the right and proper thing to do. And most days I have a great deal of empathy for them. And a hell of a lot of empathy for their family because living with this person is not easy. But the family bears it all in silence. Gawd. Save me from THAT hell. I’d rather have cancer. At least I know what I’m fighting and I have a shot at moving on and away. Oh wait…. Crap. Still got that shot though. I’m here for the long haul if I have any say in the matter.

There is one thing they said, however, that holds a grain of truth. While it is not my default and it doesn’t define me, I am quite comfortable expressing my anger. That is true. Watch me roar. It makes some folks a bit nervous to be around me because this is a society where true feelings aren’t really valued, we have good and bad feelings instead of simply feelings. That tide is changing. But in no way am I defined by my anger. In many ways I’ve held it in check during this journey because I feared that if I REALLY let it out, you all would run and run fast. Make no mistake, I’m fucking pissed about the cancer. Not in a “poor me” kind of way, but in a “I had plans you fucking rat bastard” kind of way.

I’m working on the rage I have inside me that’s been inside me a very long time. I don’t believe I was born angry but I do believe I was born damaged (another story for another time) and that damage left me open to events and circumstances which, because they were left untreated and unacknowledged, created a lot of rage. I do see it and I am working on it but I insist on expressing it. I also believe that anger, if expressed appropriately, is a catalyst to great personal growth and even, dare I day it, world change.

I’ve also had moments of doubt about posting my cancer journey on Facebook. I could have posted it here on my blog (well my old one if you want to get technical and I know some of you do so let’s nip that comment fest in the bud) but chose Facebook because it was set to private and only friends and family could see it. This is very unlike me. But the format of Facebook was preferable as well. Sound bites, quickie thoughts. It was an easy way to accomplish several goals.

  • It allowed me to inform everyone all at once of what was going on. No more numerous phone calls and emails. I thought it would make my life easier. In hindsight it did not. Folks thought offering advice was okay, folks thought public pity and sympathy was okay (take note of that when commenting), folks thought that their opinions about cancer and how to deal with it was ok. I ended up having to respond WAY too often, explain too often, and I ended up losing some friends because their boundaries were skewed and they refused to honor my requests. Sometimes I exploded in rage at feeling powerless. So yes, I left myself open and sometimes it really fucked me up. But over all the support I received was mind blowing. It wasn’t dishonest, it was loving, sincere, and really, really humbling. A lot of you gave a shit and a lot more. The fundraising party was one of the best experiences of my life. I discovered I had WAY more friends than I thought. Too many to keep up with truth be told. It was exhausting but also very invigorating, very validating, and a god send when I couldn’t do anything but Facebook and Pinterest on my phone. Thank god for my phone and social media. It got me through some very dark days. I’d do it again but with a little more acceptance and foresight that some people will say some weird and cruel and irritating stuff.
  • Facebook gave me a forum to spread the truth about cancer as I saw it. I really feel that the media lies to us about cancer. It lies to women (and men) and makes them think that if they get mammograms they are safe. You are not, not necessarily. There was truth about food, sleep, sex, cosmetics and other skin and hair products, surgery, scars, burns, self exams, recovering, pain, loss, the big business of cancer and the pink ribbon campaign, and amongst all that heavy, HEAVY shit, that there is also joy and humor and frivolity. And love. Always love. Did I unburden myself in a semi public forum? Yes, yes I did. And I’d do it again. I believe that this person only knew about it, however, because they used their family’s friend status with me to spy on me.

    Do you think me so low?

    My lord, you creep along the ground.

  • I met other, awesome, cancer survivors. We shared milestones, tears, information, love and strength. Experience, strength, and hope. Can you dig it? I can. I’ve made some friends where I never expected to, when I needed them most, just in the nick of time.
  • I’m a writer. I know some folks think that writing about their lives is frightening and or stupid and wonder how I could do it. I can’t not do it. I was born a story teller and the only story I know is my own. It’s what I do.

That’s enough for now. I had to get that out of me. I can’t let things like this poison me, or stay inside, eating at me like, wait for it, cancer. That shit can kill you! I’ll probably never eat squash or sweet potatoes or other certain cancer fighting foods but I can make sure I don’t let my anger seethe within me and kill slowly. I am going to let it out in the healthiest way I know how. By telling my story.

Brightest blessings and TTFN,

P.S. This is someone I love. A lot. They’ll probably never forgive me for writing this so I understand I’m burning a bridge but I must take care of me from now on. Your mileage may vary.

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