June 3, 2017 - Today is the Day
I didn't know there was such a day, but today is it. I don't love that survivor term, so I don't have much desire to celebrate it. But my friend, Terri enlightened me. We met up for an event on Friday.
Healing Through Art
Friday morning Terri texted, "Want to check this out?" I thought she was kidding, since we both share the same reluctance about flaunting our Cancer Survivor status.
But I looked again and liked the theme of the event. Terri's an artist and we both have our own programs that help others through the arts. Why not?
Meeting at the Hospital
A few hours later, Terri greeted me in the hospital lobby with a hug. I was tempted to "skip school" and drag her off to have a 3 hour lunch instead. But we bravely moved towards the exuberant staff, dressed in pink. A few giggled and did can-can kicks as we walked by. We were handed name tags and given free goodie bags, before moving into the conference room.
We slapped on our name tags and Terri turned to greet me, with only a hint of smile. "Hi, my name is Survivor." We sat at a round table and introduced ourselves to 2 others, before using our gift pens to write our real names.
I sobered myself by studying the table decoration. A paint can with flowers and paint brushes. That was cute.
Speakers, Food and Lots of Celebration
Was this emotionally hard for some? Embarrassing? No one looked ill or new to cancer. Where were the people with chemo curls, like mine? Am I not really a survivor yet? It's only been a year since diagnosis. But we were told, you are a survivor the day you're diagnosed. Whatever. This survivor label is odd and I don't quite want to be in this club.
Am I a Cancer Snob? I sound like it. But really, I'm just uncomfortable. The term survivor sounds like I've fought a huge battle and survived. My battle was small compared to most. Yes, I'm worthy to be in the club with those who fought harder than me. But the survivor group is a huge one that I'm supposed to feel bonded with. I've always had a hard time cheering with a group of people I don't know well. Whether it's in a church or a concert arena, I feel silly throwing my hands up along with the crowds. I just don't know if I'm comfortable in this Club of Survivors.
After the 2-hour program we were invited to take Survivor photos with the frame. They also wanted a group photo of all the survivors. Terri and I were close to sneaking out the door. It felt like we were the bad Girl Scouts... too cool for school. But we headed over and stood up tall and smiled through the big white frame. I'm glad to have a picture of me with my buddy, who paved the way in this breast cancer thing. We clicked years ago, before cancer. We connected through art programs and now we connect even more because of our common experience.
Before rushing out, Terri and I did join in with the group photo. We left, chuckling and shaking our heads. Our meet up with other Cancer Survivors shouldn't have been a hard thing to process. But we both drove home through rain, feeling a little confused. I got a text later saying, "I think we're just closet survivors." I think we are. I'm not sure how much of my reluctance is with the word survivor and how much is about being labeled anything at all. But we're planning to work on this together. We'll see if these Closet Survivors come out.
Cancer - Covid
I started this complaining list/blog, in May 2016. I posted 200 gripes about my breast cancer and then I was done.
On March 13, 2020, I started venting all over again, when another disease (starting with a C) interfered with my life. Only this time, it was affecting more than me.
Coronavirus and Cancer! Both are evil, but neither can totally get me down... if I vent! I hope with Covid, I run out of complaints before 200!