22: Hey, man, can we relate?!?

Earlier this week, I was at work, waiting for my coffee order, I met a woman who completed treatment for breast cancer last February. We chatted about our experiences, where I am in my treatment, and the challenges we've each faced. We talked about how our kids have been dealing with things. (She has two kids, ages 10 and 16). After we'd been talking for a while, she mentioned that it always made her angry when people would come up to her and say, "My grandmother had breast cancer. I know what you're going through." 

Yes!!! This!!!

I feel exactly the same way, and it was a relief to know I'm not the only one. Cancer, of any sort, sucks. Regardless of your age or anything else, it sucks. But I admit there are times when someone says, "My wife went through that, so I know how you feel," or "My 75-year-old aunt/mom/grandmother had breast cancer so I know what you're going through." 

The truth is, I'm willing to bet that there's something uniquely challenging about being a parent of young children while going through cancer treatment. As I've mentioned before, I have to keep being their mom, regardless of how crappy I feel. Yes, I have people who have helped with things, but there are many, many days when I just have to get shit done. Take the kids to school. Attend school events. Make appointments with the pediatrician's office. Clean up after someone wets the bed. Break up arguments between siblings. Clean up after someone craps their pants. Have conversations about your own death with a kindergartener. Make sure the kids have winter jackets that fit. Pick up the kids from school. And go to work as much as possible.

Even though it makes me sound shallow, but it is difficult for me when a man, whose children are grown, tells me that he knows how I feel because his wife had breast cancer. I can't help but feel angry when I'm completely wiped out between chemo sessions and he tells me that he understands everything I'm going through, despite the fact that his wife's treatment included surgery and radiation therapy (but not chemo). I'm sure her experiences sucked. I have yet to meet someone who said that cancer treatment was the best time of their life. But when I'm sitting there, trying hard to sit through an entire meeting without passing out or throwing up, it's difficult for me to not just roll my eyes when he tells me he knows how I feel.

If that makes me shallow, so be it. At least this woman and I can be shallow about it together. 
Comments