I saw that a fellow blogger also wrote about this article today.
I think another misconception the media sells is the mistaken idea that once your treatments are over you’re perfectly healthy again — you’re not. You see these Cancer Center commercials and they show this man walking out ringing a bell after his last treatment, it looks like a parade. Parenthood’s storyline this year is Kristina Braverman running for mayor of Berkley just 1 year after surviving breast cancer, brave, radiant, hair all grown back and perfect.
I blogged my way through surgery and cancer and radiation treatments, I told myself I just had to be brave and think positive, I just had to face each day head-on to make it because that’s what you see on TV, brave radiant cancer warriors, inspiring men, women, and God help us children.
What they don’t show you are the down days, the days when the radiation machine is broken pushing your end date ever further from reach or the days when you have that first MRI and there’s something there but they don’t know what and your neurosurgeon walks out of the room leaving you weeping with the words, “Don’t let this affect your life.”
They also don’t talk much about radiation treatments. Hell, even I said to myself upon learning that I’d have radiation and not chemo, “Well I’m getting off easy it’s the easy cancer treatment.” 3 skin grafts and a muscle flap surgery later there are still areas of skin that have not grown back on my head, which keep me from keeping wearing a wig. The skin still healing from the first 2 skin grafts was damaged by the radiation.
They don’t show people telling you, “Oh you have the good cancer” or the asshole asking, “When is your hair going to grow back? Oh, it’s not? Well then when are you going to start wearing a wig?” As if it is somehow his business and I somehow offend him by wearing a scarf.
They don’t show you the endless scans and follow-ups and the overwhelming all-consuming fear every time you have a scan. Will it come back? Is this the time? Am I living on borrowed time? When will my number come up? 5 years is the supposed benchmark for survivorship but I can think of plenty of people who’ve had it come back many many years later, which leaves me to wonder if I’ll ever be safe.
After cancer treatments end and we’re “cured” society and the media somehow expect us to be radiant, baptized by the fire, saved and counting our many blessings. It’s true the strongest steel is forged in fire but I don’t think you’ll find a great many jubilant steel beams.
I am grateful for my life, and I hope and pray I never have to live through cancer again and I looked for answers and as to what the universe was trying to teach me but when I see pieces like this it just pisses me off. They should do a reality show, The Cancer Diaries and film cancer patients’ day-to-day lives. I think the world would see that most of us are not always negative nor are we always positive — Is anybody? — and that all of us are just trying to get through each day as intact as humanly possible.