This is a sentence I use numerous times a day, just because I have cancer doesn't mean I've lost my sense of humour, just because I have cancer doesn't mean I no longer have any interest in your life, just because I have cancer doesn't mean I do nothing else in my life other than cancer related activities, just because I have cancer doesn't mean I don't like to look pretty and so on.
I totally get it, especially early on in the piece, if a friend of yours has just been diagnosed with cancer, for most people it's only natural they're going to want to talk about it, but there comes a point when we really need to start to pump the brakes on all the cancer talk, I don't mean you have to stop talking about it completely, just reduce the amount of c word we use in the average conversation.
I love nothing more than good old gossip or chin wag as the more mature of us like to call it, with a girlfriend, the seedier the better, the dirtier the topic of conversation the more interested I am and quite often after you're diagnosed with cancer your friends can feel guilty when they talk about their seemingly minuscule problems compared to yours, no f*****g way, you don't get away with not telling me every last detail about the girl at work who is sleeping with your boss, even though they're both married and play poker tournaments in couple teams with each other's partners every 3rd weekend, I live for that shit, that is the stuff that keeps me going! I love hearing about how shitty your day at work was and then you had to go home to a sink full of dirty dishes and stinking raw chicken that's gone off because your boyfriend left it sitting in direct 35 degree sunlight all day, now not only do you have rotten chicken smell all throughout your house, you also don't have dinner and its 7.30pm at night. That's the stuff that distracts me from the stuff that swirls around my head 24 hours a day, again I live for that shit.
I HATE with every bone in my body the old "Aaw you wouldn't wanna hear about that, you've got more important things to worry about", sentence, so just a pre-warning for all of you out there, you have been forewarned, if you use the aforementioned sentence in my presence and it's directed at me, be prepared to be given the old "just because I have cancer doesn't make me any less of a gossip whore than I was before I had cancer", speech.
People just automatically think that as soon as pathology results come back with the word cancer written on the paperwork, that we become different people, it's bad enough that our own bodies are trying to kill us off, never mind our (as well-meaning, loving and adoring as they are) friends trying to kill our personalities off as well. It's like we become the old boy in the bubble, we can see everything that's going on around us, we just can't quite, smell it, touch it, taste it or hear it properly, we're shielded from the evils of the world and most importantly we're shielded from what our friends believe to be the boring bits of their lives, their boring stories, their good news bits of their lives and the list goes on. People begin to almost walk on eggshells around us, "ssssh, don't tell her that, that could be her breaking point, she has enough problems to deal with". I beg of you, give me the option as to whether your story should be told or binned, that's half the fun, I miss being able to tell you, that story you just told was shit and asking you at the end "is that it? Sorry I thought there'd be more to it?"
Your boring everyday mundane stories about your fight with the woman on the treadmill at the gym today, because she stayed longer than her allotted time, you know the one, the one who wears way too much make up at the gym for anyone who is really there to actually exercise and get fit, she's just there to show off her new Lorna Jane Active Wear, these are the bits of our lives that are so often stolen from us by cancer, that's why we need your stories, we need to live vicariously through you.
Cancer doesn't just steal our health, it completely changes our lifestyle. If you're on active treatment such as chemo, you basically wrap yourself up in cling wrap from the beginning to the end of treatment, because you have no immune system, so that little cold your niece caught at daycare, if the cancer patient catches it, can become a full blown emergency department visit, with IV's and fevers so high you get rigors (uncontrollable shaking and feeling cold caused by a high temperature, believe me they're not pleasant, I've been there, got the t-shirt, twice), followed by a 7 day stay at hotel cancer ward, being loaded up on IV antibiotics and basically being isolated from the outside world, all because your niece licked the same slide the kid with the cold wiped his snotty hand on!
The trials and tribulations for those who are still curative are bad enough, such as the low immunity mentioned before, then there's the mental side of it for them as well, they're going through the scariest scenario imaginable, so they need your mundane stories and your exciting and positive stories, because they are the every day things they are so used to having in their lives, completely stripped away from them and all they're left with is a bald head and what feels like an empty soul, they're just sitting back frozen in this cancer limbo watching the world around them whizz by functioning as normal, while they're going through their own personal hell.
Then there's me, the terminal cancer patient, the one who can't work, because let's face it who's going to want to have an employee who could be serving a customer one minute and convulsing in pain on the shop floor the next, many of us can't exercise and for many people out there exercise is their escape and therapy, some of us can't even meditate, because we can't sit in one position comfortably long enough to get into a meditative state, the drugs we're on as you know not only drastically alter our appearance, but they can also drastically alter our personalities, personality, the one thing you think is uniquely yours and no one can change that but you, well no, you don't even have control over that, as I've mentioned before something as simple as driving, the freedom of that is taken from you, because of the drugs you're on, the ability to simply remain awake and concentrate during a simple conversation, I have micro sleeps aaaaaaaalllzzzzzzzz day long now, I can't drink champagne like its lemonade anymore and subsequently I no longer have those fun random drunk girl pub toilet conversations that I used to relish almost more than the actual night out and then there are the big moments, the more serious ones in life.........No, there's a high likelihood I'm never going to get married, let alone even have another relationship (I mean someone may find an expiry date on a woman a good thing, but somehow I don't think they're the right person for me or any self-respecting person for that matter, subsequently this means no hens party!!!!!!!! Nope, no getting to wear the dicky bride sash and getting my own special lighty up bride dick straw), No, I'm never going to own my own home, no, I'm never going to get to sail the European coast or swim in the warm waters of Bora Bora like I've always dreamt of and probably the biggest kicker of them all (well apart from the fact I'll probably never reach 40)........drum roll please.......number one on the list of the things I get to miss out on because I have terminal cancer, babies, babies of my own.
This is why it is imperative that you don't stop telling me your stories, it's so important that you keep telling me about EVERYTHING in your life, both the good and the bad! STOP censoring your life, because I'm dying, you and your life may be just what's keeping me going, just like my beautiful friend who sent me a series of pictures in chronological order of her baby the other day, such a thoughtful thing to do, especially considering the last one was of her gorgeous baby covered in her own shit, you see what type of boring life would I have, if I didn't have my friends to live through vicariously, if my friend felt guilty because she could squeeze a baby out of her wing wang and I can't, I wouldn't have squirted my drink through my nose in laughter the other day, when I opened that glorious picture message. I would have continued to sit in my bubble, on the lounge, watching the rest of the world living, whilst I'm slowly dying.
Stay fabulous Rockstars ❤️🤘🏼
My name is Lisa Magill and I have been navigating the minefield that is cancer since just months after turning 30, people have been saying to me for years that I should put my thoughts into writing and as time has progressed I thought I had left it too late, well here we are nearly 4 years in and for some unknown reason I've decided to start to write today.