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June 09, 2015

Thoughts

As I approach the day another surgery seems inevitable, I'd like to clear my head of a few thoughts that are just heavy and keep me from moving forward.

First of all, what you're about to read is not pointed at one person.  It is a collection of thoughts I have had since my diagnosis and what I have experienced.  I know the intentions of others are to share and somehow connect, but there are ways that work, and some that are simply counterproductive to healing.  This is my experience, from my point of view.  Maybe I'm the only one who thinks this way.  But maybe I'm not.  All I'm asking is that you think before you speak.

What do you say to a person who has cancer?  Of any form, but my experience being skin cancer?

Well, first of all, you don't minimize it with "it could be much worse" - it is bad enough for someone going through it, and what comforts me is to know that someone understands my pain and struggle, not that my pain and struggle is disproportionate to what is vs. what could be.  Cancer is shit, in any form.  Knowing that at any time it can pop up on my body has kept me in a state of alert, I can barely sleep from hyper awareness, my eating habits are constantly being monitored by a mind that won't for a minute let me ingest something that is "not good" for me.  And I try to be as normal as possible during the day - yet, when I meet new people, and see their eyes wonder towards my scar, I am constantly reminded of what I'm going through.  I can't forget.  I can't keep on answering yes to "did you have an accident?" because the word cancer is "uncomfortable" to others.  Trust me, this shit is very uncomfortable for me.  I can't make it better for you.

I don't want to meet all your friends who have had cancer.  The "you should meet so and so" comment is what I dread every day.  No, I don't want to sit around with other people with cancer and talk about it.  I barely want to fucking think about it, but I have no other choice.  When I have a choice, I want to talk with my friends about their children, music, traveling, anything BUT cancer.  I don't want a stranger sharing anything with me about his/her struggle with it.  Harsh?  I don't find comfort in other people's pain.  I empathize, I want to make it better, and I am more than emotionally drained at the end.  That doesn't help me.  It doesn't feel better to know that there are others suffering with this on a daily basis.  I'd rather be the only one in the world with it and put an end to it.  Knowing the pain so MANY feel is overwhelming.

I don't want to hear about your experience if it's a negative one.  The "I've had it 6 times" comment is terrifying to me.  To anyone going through it.  I know it's there, I don't want to be reminded that I might have to go through it again, and again and again and again and again and again.  Do you hear your words?  Do you know the impact they can make on a mind that is barely struggling with grasping having had the fucking cancer removed once?  Just say "I know how you feel" if you shared a similar experience.  Leave it at that.  Don't give me a mental image of having to go through this until I die.  As far as I'm concerned, my next surgery is my last one.  Cancer gone.  Last one.  I visualize a healthy body and a healthy mind, don't poison it with images of sickness.  The "surviving multiple surgeries" is not positive thinking.  The "this is it" is.

I don't want your pity.  I'm not a victim of anything.  This is life, and I'm living it.  Although a hug every once is a while is the best medicine.

Don't compare my experience to your dog. No, it's not the same.  I'm sorry about your dog, but it's not the same.

Don't say "scars give your face character" - my face had enough character before cancer. Now it's different and I have to get used to seeing it in the mirror every day, without over analyzing every single freckle or spot.

So, what can you say?  Really, sometime all I want to hear is "that sucks" - then I know you understand.  This will not make me stronger, I'm strong as it is.  This will not change my love of  life, or my belief system.  This is not karma or some bullshit people decide to vomit when they're filled with hateful bile.  This is not drama.  This is life.   You treating me like usual, that's what I love.  Saying things like "I love you" and "you have great doctors" is comforting.  The best thing someone said to me lately was "you have the very best surgeon".   I know it's going to be ok, because everything really is ok.

I am so very grateful to be surrounded by friends who say the right thing at the right time - they keep me "in check" - sometimes that thing is a simple nod of the head, acknowledging fear, anger, or stupid jokes I make when I just can't be serious anymore.  Friends who send care packages to make me smile, and those who have so much concern for my healing that they go out of their way to find products, ointments, oils, supplements that will help.  Friends who, with just one look, know if I'm having a bad moment and tell me it's ok to feel that way and that I'm being proactive and taking care of things.  Friends who remind me that my karma is what got me the best surgeon, the medical staff and the people who support me in my journey, not what got me cancer.  Friends who when they see me greet me with "hi, beautiful".  Friends who I work with on a daily basis who always have a smile ready to share.  Friends who drive to my house to deliver something they know will make me feel better.  Friends who hug, smile, laugh and share with me their daily struggles.  Because that's what is needed, friendship at the deepest level.

Maybe this is not the "sweet Lucia" you're used to.  But it's the Lucia that is going to kick cancer's ass and that needs you to think about your words first.

Thank you for reading this. Again, it's not meant to disrespect anyone's intention.  I know words and actions come from a place of goodness. I KNOW that.  I'm just trying to get through it the best I can and this is what helps, if you want to help.

In Gratitude,
LDG
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