I want to be a cancer survivor on my own terms, I'm realising. I suspect this is both reasonable and unreasonable (or at least ungrateful), but right now I'm not value-judging it. I'm just telling you what is.
I have friends who I have ongoing conversations with. We talked about stuff before, and we talk about stuff now, and sometimes the stuff is related to cancer, but that isn't all we talk about. I like that.
Here's what I don't like:
I don't like when people I don't really know, with whom I rarely converse, decide that now they know something about me, and they come up to me and get a pained look on their faces and say, "How are you feeling? Are you okay? Really? That's good, 'cause you look great."
Um . . . thanks?
I think a lot of these people are really well-meaning and genuinely concerned, and I feel for them in the awkward scenario of only knowing one thing about me to talk to me about. I mean, I've been in similar situations. (And I probably haven't been any more graceful in them.) But being on the receiving end of this tends to grate after a while. I want to say, at a slightly-louder-than-conversational decibel level, "Hey! Everybody! I am not my cancer! I have other aspects of my life and personality we could explore here! I don't even have cancer anymore, guys! They took it out!"
This, of course, ignores the facts that:
1. There is an upcoming treatment that is making me very, very nervous.
2. If these same people I don't really know started trying to probe into other aspects of my life, I'd probably resent that even more.
3. I am quite happy to talk about having had cancer if it excuses me from doing something I don't want to do.
I can't come up with a conclusion to this post which doesn't imply some sort of value judgment from either myself or you, so instead I will end with an all-purpose quote from the Milk Guy and say,
"There it is, then."