Cancer Can't Talk

I should be used to it by now. All the whispers. The talking behind my back or worse, referring to me in the third person right in front of me. This is often how my cancer is discussed. In quiet tones and hushed voices when I am out of earshot. Thing is, I can hear it. Sometimes for real and sometimes just in the eyes of the people that are about to partake or have already indulged in an exchange of verbiage surrounding my plight. It makes me want to scream "Quit talking about it behind my back!" As if I don't know I have stage 4 cancer and the odds that I am even here right now are ones that I have defied. All of my friends and family saying that I "look so good" to my face still either doubt my long term survival or worse doubt my ability to cope with the seriousness of my diagnosis. Both are talked about behind my back and I hate it. I thrive on truth. I am realistic. I have hope. All those things the truth, the facts and hope can be talked about with me but it seems if they are to be discussed in my presence then I am the one that will lead the charge. I do it sometimes just to gain control of the conversation that will more than likely ensue when I am out of earshot.

"It's just the cancer talking" is a phrase I have often overheard after one of my conversation control missions. As a matter of fact that phrase is often used if I am noted to be in a sour mood, sad, distracted, or angry. As much as I would like to blame cancer for any negative feelings in my life I cannot. I have cancer, yes, but despite it I have remained human. Chemotherapy and radiation have killed all sorts of cells within me but it has not altered my human condition. All my feelings remain intact. You might be thinking that you know that already but the way people behave generally behind my back tells me different. When will I ever be thought of as "Michele" again and not "Michele. You know she has stage 4 cancer? How is she doing? No really...how is she doing?"

The funny thing is, is that I know that people will read this blog, know my feelings, and the talk will go on. Even my closest friends and family will continue to do it. Secretly wonder how I am. I know it's because they love me and have concern for my wellbeing and strangely must feel I am too fragile emotionally to be honest with others and perhaps even myself because of my awful diagnosis and it's terrible outcome. Maybe on some level that's true and I really don't know how I am doing. What the heck! Have I been lying to myself this whole time?! Maybe I'm not really angry when I am. If I believe that cancer is responsible for my feelings and reactions then is the joy I experience a false happiness created by my cancer? I don't accept that. I don't believe it. The truth is, cancer has put me in touch with my feelings in a way I had never known before. I express those emotions when they occur. Before cancer I was more, let's say, restrained when it came to outwardly showing them. But they were there all along, just the same. If anything this entry will antagonize the situation I describe. My friends and family will worry and whisper even more. I will continue to say when I leave a room "Don't talk about me when I am gone.", but they will anyway saying "It's just the cancer talking." but I am here to tell you that cancer can't talk.

Annabelle threw a punch at your cancer.
Ashley sent you a prayer.
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Wow Michele I can so relate to that!!!! Right now I am cancer free but I remember that so well!!!!!! There were times I just wanted to break away from all of them and run away but I couldn't. Hang in there. Understand that they do love you and just don't realize how that "talk" hurts us so bad.
Michele, Patrice58 like this comment
Hi Michele...I also love your posts. You make us think and analyze things from a different perspective. I hope that one day the people talking about you like this will be saying, "You know, Michele, she had stage 4 cancer like 20 years ago and she beat it...".

Hugs,
Mari
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Yes it is very difficult and frustrating for those of us who are struggling not to be defined by our cancer to suddenly become cast as the "cancer girl" in thier midst. It used to make me angry - now I just try to shrug it off and retain my sense of humor. Not always easy. Seems like they don't expect you to have a crabby day or attribute it to treatment.
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My mother tells me I am going through my change.. I think change into what?.. I finally told her I had my hormone levels checked and I am over menopause... Everytime I have a sad moment or depressed , its that or look at all you have been through , maybe you should get on something for that.see someone for that . I think its perfectly normal to have a range of emotions from extremely happy and grateful to I hate my life and this sucks.. and it can happen all in one day simultaneously.. I believe that is normal "human" behavior ..Life is a challenge ..and I guess we are all learning to cope .. sometimes I wonder who has it worse , us or the caretakers. I have been on both sides, I think it's even..I don't know... Just keep staying positive Michele, your amazing and I love this post from you.. hugs and love and always prayers Sabina
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Thanks for yet another great post. I have been struggling myself. It is good to have a fresh perspective. Love and hugs to you.
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Michelle, as a nurse, I pledge never to do this. Like any other chronic illness, it should be out in the open, even though other chronic illnesses are not always out either. Sometimes, the patient looks at me with gratitude, as the SO looks shocked that I can even bring the subject up. Like they don't know they have the (cancer, dementia, HIV+) etc!

Communication is key, we all get it, maybe someday the world will to. The stigma of our particular cancer doesn't help, but I continue to be open about it. I, like you, am determined not to be defined by my cancer.

We are so lucky to know you, the rest of the world should be so lucky! The gift of appreciating our emotions in a way we never did before is something we all experience. I count myself fortunate to have been given that, it is something the perpetually emotionally stifled will never understand.

We "get it". Thanks for sharing, I love your posts!
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Hi Michelle - I don't know what to write but wanted to write something - maybe it is just, thank you for sharing and I hear you - and maybe that's enough. It makes sense that "the talk" would in some way alienate you from those who you would wish to be close to. I don't know if that is how it is. I wish that "the talkers" may learn to simply ask, how are you, Michelle? - and listen to your reply. love to you. x
Michele, Linda like this comment
Love your post Michele, love your spirit, love your honesty.( I'm in a love word mood) I understand you when you say cancer can't talk. We just do the talking for it. I hope someday you will look back at all of your posts and say well I have totally beaten this and make that one last cancer post, then go on writing Fiction for the rest of your life and you will have so much time to write that you won't know what to do with yourself... I admire you so.
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Thank you! So well said!
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Ah, Michele. You always inspire reflection. First, a snarky thought - when you hear someone say "you look so good" try replying "it wasn't my face that they radiated..."

And no, cancer can't talk. YOU talk. You have things to say and the cancer has freed you to understand them and say them.

Be strong, and keep on talking!
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You made me laugh out loud...I love you my friend!
Oh, you have made my day!!! HUGSS
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this subject. I think we can all relate from both sides of the conversation. You really make us think about it. Although in no way does this come close to cancer can't talk, it reminds me of how I always was put out when certain people would say, oh it's her hormones talking, or is it that time of the month? It diminishes the conversation or event that is happening. Hugs to you, Michele! Cherie
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It would make me angry to know that someone said "Oh, it's just the cancer talking" behind my back, but I'm sure that's happened. Instead of people reacting like that, why can't they just be a friend and say that they can't understand how I feel, but that they would be glad to listen. Unfortunately, a lot of people just don't want to hear about "arse" cancer. I guess that's what makes BFAC so great--plenty of people WILL listen! Love and hugs to you, my friend.
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Maybe you could appoint an advocate for when you're out of the room. When you come back in the room, your advocate would openly out the conversation that ensued during your absence. That may change some behavior and bring some awkward enlightenment into the moment (aka keepin' it real).) I cannot fathom how I would respond if someone told me "that's your cancer talking". I hope I would think WWJD or what would the Dali Lama say, but I suspect my first response would be a one word noun and then I would have to apologize...later.
Michele, Daisy like this comment
Michele, I always love reading your posts; you are such a gifted writer. I found myself thinking so much about this particular post after I read it because it made me a little angry at those around you. Yes we have stage 4 cancer but the truth is that none of us have any idea what our future holds. That decision is up to one entity alone; God (or whomever you believe in). I think somebody here said it so well that "today we are all 100% alive". That is all we ever really and truly have. I think we have all learned that we need to live our lives for the beautiful moments we receive and express gratitude. There is no point in anyone talking behind your back about how you really are. Hopefully your positive attitude will teach them to be grateful that you are here with them now!!
XOXO my sister
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One of the best things about BFAC is that it is truly a community where we can share experiences, learn from others, agree and disagree. I have to tell you I cannot relate to or often feel the opposite of most of your posts! This is not a bad thing and it is helpful for me to read another perspective. You don't think cancer has changed your human condition? It hasn't made you mad? Really? Cancer makes me rage! If anybody talks behind my back, I both appreciate it (because I am a difficult person and I am pleased that anyone cares enough to talk) but I also can shrug it off because I don't really care about the talker's opinion. I am an introvert and a loner and have just never been too affected by other's opinions.

You are loved and supported and expect a lot from your family (I love reading about your team accompanying you to appts, etc - not everyone experiences that). I wish I had that to complain about - I guess the grass is always greener, you know? Have you ever (outside of this post which is a great way to get the talkers' attention) confronted these people? I'd be like "WTF is your problem? I am RIGHT here, dammit!"

I also disagree with you about cancer's effects on our feelings. Since treatment does kill healthy as well as malignant cells, whose to say whether it isn't affecting both mood and memory? I have always been a moody bitch but being slammed into peri-menopause made me a BIG BITCH, LOL! I also can't remember things and often comment that I feel "dumb" from chemo.

This post is awesome because you are unleashing the truths that have been pawing at your mind's door. In this post, you are screaming ""Quit talking about it behind my back!" just as you write that you want to. I hope your friends and family "hear" you and really listen.

Finally, this: "If I believe that cancer is responsible for my feelings and reactions then is the joy I experience a false happiness created by my cancer? I don't accept that."

I DO ACCEPT THIS. AND IT IS OKAY. It serves a purpose. The false happiness turns into something else when you have been in remission a few years. I am still figuring out what state of being my human condition is in. There are some tattered edges, that's for sure. And some desperation.

Someone who isn't going through your particular cancer, in your specific shoes can't possibly understand what you are going through and the way you feel but we can read, sympathize, support/commiserate and also challenge you. I guess I just wanted to throw out a dissenting opinion not to antagonize (as I don't think your post will antagonize your friends and family) but to state someone else's differing, possibly ugly, truth.

I hope things get better for you. You deserve happiness, good health and peace of mind. Take care.
Blogging for me is catharsis and catharsis alone. While I truly appreciate what you are saying I stand behind my words and my feelings as my own. Not "right" or "wrong" or even "justified"...simply real. As I have told many, including my family and loved ones, my blog is about me not them. The point of this particular writing is that my emotions are genuine. I was angry, sad, bitchy from time to time before I had cancer and although I will never have the relief of experiencing remission I believe that when I experience those emotions now they are in response to my life not my cancer! but that's just me. I write about what niggles my brain not to sway the reader to "my side or my way of thinking". My joy is as real as my anger or sadness etc.
So, I applaud what you wrote to me and accept those as your feelings and am glad you expressed them. You own them as I own mine. I want you to know that I am happy and enjoy peace of mind. ~ M
Great post thank you!
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Vital Info

Posts

October 3, 2011

Click Here

January 31, 1963

Cancer Info

Anal Cancer

Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the anus

February 5, 2010

Stage 4

2.1 - 3.0 cm

Grade 3

No

As much as possible

Proceeds from my published blog donated monthly

It is a thief

You have to live every day of your life and stay positive :)

Donate $$ to the anal cancer foundation. Raising awareness saves lives!

Is there anything good about poison?

Bone, lung recurrence 9/20/2012

Cancer Center of Kansas, MD Anderson

Bland diet, sitz baths, take your drugs...nobody gets extra credit for suffering.

Talk, talk, talk to somebody. I chose to write.

April 20, 2010

September 20, 2010

Rectal bleeding, itching, sciatic pain. (thought my hemorhoid was acting up)

My blog has been published and proceeds go to The HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation. http://tinyurl.com/72bjjfp

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