Friday, June 5, 2015

A Cancer Get-Together

On the off chance that I do not make it out of there alive, I think you should all know that sometime tomorrow afternoon, I plan to enter a giant inflatable colon. Hopefully, shortly thereafter, I will also exit the giant inflatable colon in the same state that I entered it.

I am doing this because my healthcare provider is sponsoring a Celebration of Life and Cancer Survivor Day.

There is a degree humor here, since about a week ago I wrote about not liking the survivor tag. I still don’t. I think it must have been invented by someone who has never had cancer, because the people I know who’ve struggled with the disease don’t seem to like the term either.

I’m going to this particular get together on the advice of my primary care physician, who seems to think I have isolated myself from other cancer people.  This is true. I’ve never attended a cancer support group, though I’m to stranger to support groups in general. I rarely talk about the state of my health, though I did write and perform a tune for the Cancer Can Rock people, and this led to a lengthy article in The Washington Post. The fact is, I’m hesitant to discuss the disease. There remains an unaccountable shame, a sense of being soiled, of somehow becoming an untouchable, and I’ve had just about enough of feeling that way.

I don’t expect miracles, but I wouldn’t mind finding a couple of other people like myself who’ve had multiple surgeries. I’d like to know how they cope with the quadrennial tests. Do they go into a tailspin as I do? Are they scared? I am. I also get depressed, frightened and resentful. The knowledge acquired over the years on acceptance isn’t working right now.

Judging from the hand-out I received, I suspect this event will have a lot to do with women and breast cancer. There seem to a number of lectures scheduled on prosthetics and bras. I am looking forward to the chair massage and art therapy session, as well as to the makeup tips offered by a representatives from Nordstrom.

I’m hoping there might be a workshop on cancer and anxiety. I hope there will be a shrink or two with whom I can talk. In the past few months, my anxiety and feelings of loss of control have blossomed in a nasty way. I’ve been told these are not uncommon side-effects of cancer.      

I’m curious about exercising. Every time I have surgery, I have to cease going to the gym for two or three weeks, and it’s getting harder and harder to motivate myself to return. I’m also curious about alternative treatments, though I’ve made it a point to stay away from the websites promoting hemp butter, ketogenic diets and hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

But really, I’m going for the giant inflatable colon.

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