So much about my life has gone back to status quo (note I’m not using the word ‘normal’). I don’t think about cancer every hour. Some days I only think about it once or twice a day (usually in conjunction with my hair which is in a rough stage requiring at least 4 snap barrettes and 2 rubber bands to pull it back because if I were to wear it down, it would be full-on Billy Ray Cyrus circa 1998.)
So I may not think about myself in terms of cancer as much, but I do think about it in terms of other people all the time.
I am on vacation with my family in a charming little beach town. I keep seeing this woman who looks younger than me with her family which consists of very little kids. She is chic and very well dressed every time I see her. I don’t imagine anyone would look at her sideways, except perhaps a survivor.
Her hair is short, a length I’m basically positive she wouldn’t choose based on the life I imagine her having. She is always wearing a baseball cap that has something written on it that denotes that she is from a southern town. Another reason I am sure she wouldn’t have this hairstyle by choice.
This woman is very thin. Like lithe and gorgeous thin. But she is always wearing baggy tops. The kicker for me was seeing her in a very ruffly bathing suit top that to anyone one else would read: cute! But to me it read: concealing. After extensive staring from various angles from behind my dark sunnies, her chest appeared flat, even concave?
The one thing throwing me off the trail is the lack of scar from a port. Unless she had an arm port like me in which case I might not have been able to see it. Or perhaps she never used a port? Or PERHAPS SHE NEVER HAD CANCER AND I’M A STALKER WITH AN OVERACTIVE IMAGINATION?
When I tell you that it is taking everything I have not to approach this woman and put upon her the life story I have assigned to her…
As much as I would like to say that I want to speak with her because I want to be a glimpse into her healthy future, an ear to really hear and understand her story, it’s actually about me.
Everywhere I go (save for the Young Survival Coalition Conference), I am most likely the only woman in her 30s who has already had and beat cancer. Without even knowing I’m doing it, I am always scanning for another of my kind.
It’s like a constant breast cancer safari.
I want to feel less alone out in the world. I know there are so many of you out there, but many of you are camouflaged, hiding your cancer stripes behind well crafted habitats.
I want to see you. I want to find you out and about. I want to be among you.
I even thought today, as I pined after my maybe/maybe not breast cancer vacation crush that if I had a pink ribbon tattoo somewhere noticeable, she would approach me. I don’t want a pink ribbon tattoo (do I?), but I do want to be a walking billboard for survival.
Look at me!! I am a lazy, wussy, spaz and I did it, that means YOU can do it too!!! I want to be your, ghost of cancer future, your North Star of thriver-ship!
It comes down to the basic need to feel less alone. To feel connected. Within a room of people, it sucks to feel like you are probably the only one whose been dealt the shit-stick. Of course I don’t mean that I hope people have cancer. I guess I just mean that I am uncomfortable being the only statistic within visual range.
Do I wish we all had to wear scarlet letters revealing us to one another as survivors? No. Well, maybe.
I just want to help you, and by helping you, I mean, helping me.