Friday, September 5, 2008

Last Weekend of Freedom, part 1

This past weekend was my last of relative normalcy in SF. I went to my first day of school- senior collection- with a weight on my shoulders that was unrelenting. How will I tell people? Will I have to quit school? What will my professors think? Fashion design is my livelihood, passion, my entire identity. Without this medium of expression my life feels pointless. In short: I WANT TO FINISH SCHOOL, regardless of cancer. I felt welcome and accepted by my peers and teachers, which was a great comfort. I can do this.

I am learning quickly how to deal with people who have just learned you have cancer. The response is often awkward. People are sympathetic, of course. Overtly so. They like to tell me about their gran or aunt or boyfriend's stepmother's friend's dog that got prostate cancer and died and shit, was that sad, that dog was so cute.

I find the most helpful reaction is a sincere "my thoughts are with you" followed by something funny about fake hair or du-rags. No stories of old people you know who died, no "but you're too young to have cancer" (how on earth is that helpful?), and DEFINITELY no "I'm so sad, you're making me cry, why me?". Why you? If I can deal with it, you can deal with me dealing with it.

I remember when my friend Sara told me she had non-hodgkin's lymphoma when we were attending community college. I was shocked at how stoic she was. All I could do was ask questions about treatment and say "I'm sorry to hear that, I hope you get better." I get it now! We have to tell 50 million people the same story over and over. It gets easy. Dealing with people's reactions does not...


MorbidKitty said...

It's a lesson in patience. You have to put everything on hold and then pick it up when your all better. I wanted to finish school too...I couldn't though. When you have to feel so weak and sick, it's hard. Chemo affects how you feel, your memory and emotions. Putting too much stress can defeat the purpose of chemo, so relaxing is the best thing to do. I had my drs freaked out at me because I tried to go back to school too soon and found out the hard way I wasn't ready physically. The hardest thing was leaving school in LA, falling behind in all my dreams...after everything was done...I had to pick up the pieces...slowly. The professors were really sympathetic and understanding. They won't look down on you for it. They'll support and root for you. :) I'm still dealing with it..I'm mad but understanding at the same time that I had to put things on hold because I feel so left behind at times. Life happens though...and if you're determined enough, you'll catch up and you will finish school. As my mom kept telling me..."school will always be there". Just get better 1st! :)

Jenn said...

Haha, I love the "my cousin had that cancer and let me tell you in graphic detail about her horrible painful death." I was diagnosed at 23 with Ewings too, btw. If you need someone to rant to, contact me!