Wednesday, June 22, 2011
The Bravery Thing
So last night I was in bed thinking about when people say to me "You're so brave" and I was feeling like, "Gee, I don't feel brave." So I started to really mull it over. Most of the people who say that are people who have never had cancer or any other major illness (thankfully, and I hope all my lovies remain that way!!!) And I think I know why that is...
But there's another side to this too. The other cancer warriors out there, we are all very funny about the bravery thing. Like we never think in terms of stages, I mean if we hear someone is newly diagnosed we of course want them to be diagnosed early. BUT we don't think in terms of, "well you're Stage 1, Ha! That ain't nuthin!" Because being diagnosed with any illness, but cancer especially, is just plain devastating! And it affects you in so many ways, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. It can paralyze you, depress you, hell it can hurt like a son of a bitch!
But I do notice that when we warriors hear about someone who went thru a longer treatment, or a more intense regimen or a surgery that we didn't have to have, we always think, "Now there's a warrior!" I said that to a friend Joseph, who I went to school with from 5th-12th grade, who went through 60 brain radiation treatments last year. I only had 14, by treatment 7, I was so happy to be halfway thru I considered dancing on the machine! Also my ears are so blistered that I can only imagine that by treatment 40 Joe's ears just burst flames. So I told him how struck I was by his toughness and he wrote back most eloquently "i'm no different than anyone else in the struggle. I refused to let it interfere in my life."
So I've figured it out, why we don't feel brave or special or tough... It's because we really have no choice in the matter, if you know what I mean. A firefighter, a police officer, a soldier, they have a choice. Their uniform doesn't physically compel them to enter a burning building or jump into a fire fight. They choose to do it. That my friends is brave! People who stand up for the right thing when everyone else is against them, that's brave.
When you're told you'll never be cancer free but we can "extend you're life", the "choice" to fight like hell isn't brave, it's logical. Like hell yeah I'm taking chemo, can we double it? What if I yell at the cancer will that help? Does Sloan have any Voodoo priestesses on payroll? I have a daughter who needs me, I have a husband I love and can't balance a damn check book and can barely boil water, they'll starve without me!
I didn't even think, I just put one foot in front of the other. And the truth is, if god forbid you find yourself in this position, you will too. It's a survival instinct, it's that part of you that will yell, hell no I won't go! It's there, we probably use it all the time without even realizing it.
As for the sense of humor thing, look, I'm already sick, why be depressed as well? You'll be surprised at the fact that you can laugh about stuff, but you can. Go to Cafe Press and type in "chemo" or "cancer" and see all the t-shirts that people created. Cancer patients, who said, fuck it, I need to laugh. Mel Brooks was once asked by 60 minutes why he made so many movies that feature Hitler. And he said it was because during the war he hated him so much he wanted to have some sort of revenge on him and he realized the best revenge was to get people to laugh at the muthafucker! I think that's genius!