Cancer has a way of making you focus on yourself like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. Your life, whether you admit it or not, is at the mercy of the whims of your treatment and disease. You think about it. You talk about it. You write about it. You become hyper-aware of discomfort and pain and think, talk, and write about that. Friends and family offer support and encouragement and as a result, you start to feel a little entitled to a certain level of sympathy and attention.
We become needy babies, greedy babies.
Case in point, I met a woman online. She’s around my age and has the same cancer and diagnosis as me. We have exchanged some emails and they have all, without exception, been about her. She will outline her symptoms, treatment plans, side effects, whathaveyou - without even a simple greeting of, “Hey! How ‘ya doin’?” It’s just straight to her business which, I might add, goes on and on and on and on, which I get - sort of - and then closing with an, “I’ll keep you posted.” Not a, "Hope you're doing well," or, "Best wishes," Nothing. Simple manners are out the window – because of the cancer.
I think we, the cancerous, need to be very careful of the people we are becoming as we deal with our illness. We cannot come to think of ourselves as special people requiring special attention and due special privileges simply because our cells have gone haywire. Although it may seem different when you’re showered with attention and concern by family, friends and medical people, it’s not all about us. Assuming we’re well enough to function in society, we need to continue to engage in the give and take of relationships – perhaps even more so considering what some people do for us.
So here’s my clarion call for dropping those infantile tendencies and maintaining good, adult manners and concern for others despite our cancer.
It's not that difficult. Really.