I haven’t been able to say it out loud yet “I have cancer.” I say that I have Lymphoma.
As if I don’t say it out loud, I can keep this secret from my body that it already knows?
Of course now I have to say that I have Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)/Small Lymphocytic Lymphoma(SLL), formerly two diseases that are now treated as one. And then explain that despite the word Leukemia, CLL is considered a non-Hodkins Lymphoma.
And that’s after I’m done comforting the people I tell.
How do you tell people you have cancer?
No seriously, I’m asking you.
The way I’m telling people is not working.
Maybe it’s because I have an instinct to try and take care of people. I like to lead with words like “early” and “treatable” as those were the words that were given to me.
Most responses fall into three general categories.
“You’re gonna die but let’s pretend we don’t believe that and pray”
I truly don’t give a crap whether someone thinks a person of data and science like myself is crazy for believing in Jesus. You believe in Love and marriage or breeding or R & B or chocolates on Valentine’s Day. I believe in Jesus. Honestly, BFD.
That said, sometimes I understand why my fellow believers who chose to express themselves in the holy roller way are losing people.
Can we please have one big prayer meeting at my house? Even monthly, I could do that. Instead of all of these wonderful God-fearing well-meaning people trickling in two at a time like hobos to pray for me.
I have no problem with prayers. But when you come to pray for someone’s life? Please behave like they’re not going to die. Especially when the person you’re praying for PROBABLY ISN’T GOING TO DIE. lmfao
And why it several versions of the same prayer? Jesus isn’t deaf you know. He heard me the first time and I already believe in my deliverance.
I sound like such a bitch.
But after you have gathered the only energy you had for the day to answer the door and entertain a non-family-member or non-family-friend coming by to pray for you for the umpteenth time, in full mourning voice?
You start to wonder if they are there for you or if there’s some kind of Holy-Ghost-catching contest taking place in your home that you don’t know about.
“You’re the one with the cancer but let’s make this about comforting me”
Now of course you know this entire vent is to be taken with a grain of salt. And is written in loving camaraderie with my fellow cancer survivors of every stage.
But there has been no time in my life where I have seen more proof that the Universe is absolutely hilarious.
As well as all the sweethearted close friends who actually know me and cried when they found out.
I love you too. But don’t make me cry please! If you cry I’m definitely going to cry – shout out to my Mom for knowing this!
It’s also a blessing to have people love you so much that you tell them that you have a form of Lymphoma and they go all full maybeline ruin on you like…
And it’s like “WHOA. No shorty, me, I have Lymphoma. You’re okay.”
I’m not kidding when I say that I really thought some folks misheard me. My older brother was a particularly touching one. He said “No! Not you, Tinu.”
And I promise you I know it was serious but in addition to being touched I wanted to giggle.
Not me? Do you know who you’re talking to, babe? All the effed up stuff that’s happened to me? No way was I going to be safe from cancer, LOL.
The best responses though, are the ones that surprise you. This third category is where it’s at. From people you thought would cry but made a wildly inappropriate joke that is just your humor, to utter silence.
No really. Some people went silent. And I haven’t heard from them since.
Then there are the people who propose an alternative treatment that they swear by but have never tried, and don’t have your particular ailment. I’m used to those people from my chronic pain issues. Thanks for discovering the world’s only untested cure for cancer.
But even if it worked for someone you know, do I look anything like a guinea pig? Do you know my health history. Jeeze.
The other surprise people make up for it though.
The relative that spends God-knows-how-much money to arrive in the United States from 10,000 miles away a month earlier than planned, just to make sure you have a ride back and forth from every single chemo treatment.
Or another who comes with you to every single appointment so you’re not alone to get any form of bad news, or ever be without someone to hold your hand.
Or the one who tells her kids that every hour on days that you’re bummed, that they should give Momo (that’s me) her medicine, which is basically tickling until you nearly pee yourself.
And the ones you aren’t close to anymore, but who keep showing up for you.
Even on Valentine’s Day weekend when they definitely have their own lives and stuff to do. But they bring you their kids or some flowers or advice via a spouse who had cancer anyway. Whether they live 3 miles away or three hours.
Plus someone who was already functioning at best friend level who steps up their game to bring you enticing food because they know you’re losing your appetite.
Not to mention all the friends who bore the news so gracefully, who send you cash and gifts you didn’t ask for, to help arm you for this fight. You have no idea how much you might suddenly need these things, and how great it is to have people there for you to do these things.
It almost makes you into one of those tearful cliches that finds out through what seemed as first to be a horrible tragedy how lucky and loved she truly is.
PS- This is really me laughing at life, not you. However you respond to me having cancer is perfectly fine. But so are my various feelings about it! Just know the biggest feeling I had was gratitude.