So it’s taken me a while to write again after dealing with the aftermath of the ‘new lump’ status. I’ve had a few people contacting, getting in touch and not realising that I am already a couple of months ahead of this. Because I can’t deal with typing my raw emotion when it happens. I write it I raw emotion in my wee black book. But dear me, no one wants to read that book in its entirety! So I type it about two months later and then post. This does cause confusion and I appreciate that for my closer folk they don’t quite know how to deal with conversations with me! But I am still doing this journey fine. I’m still here and I’m still laughing.
I’ve thought a lot about how I deal with the emotion of this journey and I am quite an enigma. In real life I spend a lot of time being blasé about how I’m going. Usually because I’m either freaking out about another lump (!) or just trying not to sound like a whinging minny. So I put on a brilliant smiley face and usually knock out that I am ‘doing just fine’. I usually start over talking at this point and it distracts everyone from their original question! Works a treat every time!!
I would love to offer advice to people of how to approach this with someone who has just had a cancer diagnosis, is living with a cancer diagnosis, or is supporting someone with a cancer diagnosis. And do you know what – I don’t have all the answers. All I know is how I have dealt with it, how I want to be dealt with, and how some days I want to not be defined by the bloody twatting diagnosis.
In all honesty, most people have been absolutely amazing and have reacted to my cues. If I’ve shut down and pretended that I am doing A.O.K. they have treat me as such and just done business as usual. When I have had a wobble and blethered about bollacks, they have listened, nodded and tried to understand, which is also OK as no one can really understand unless you live it. I love all of these approaches, but I also know that people do walk on a few eggshells approaching the subject with me. The funniest situation by far is when I talk about the end of the journey and the offer of re-constructing the boobs to be equal – not a single person doesn’t give a furtive glance at the boob area to see if they can clock whether they are that far off!!!! Internally this makes me chuckle more than it should! Human behaviour is fascinating! (P.S. I would also be in that camp, and try to do it subtly – let me explain, on the receiving end, you aren’t being subtle!! P.P.S Padded bras are tremendous at their job!!!).
Enigma continued, I am struggling with people who ignore (are terrified of raising the issue with) the obvious. After the big shave, I started seeing professional colleagues over the next few months (who had no idea about my diagnosis and journey). Some of these have reacted well (no emotion, continued meetings as if nothing was different), some have blethered like idiots while they compose themselves, some have asked how I am outright. Do you know what, I still don’t know what I prefer. Because I also know that those who haven’t directly asked me the question have snuck round to colleagues/friends and asked them – but does that matter? They’re not asking me because they don’t want to upset me (I presume), but I would rather they asked me directly so I could be the one to spread the word, to explain the need for self awareness and self care, the need for every woman in their life (and them included) to look, feel, check, follow up. I also know that some days I wouldn’t have done well with being asked how I was directly (for some reason I get more upset telling relative strangers how I am, than being my bullish self with those closer to me!). So possibly my advice would be to gently check in with anyone who looks like they could do with it. I mean, this applies to any situation if I’m honest. Woah – I’m tapping into my Mental Health First Aid training here, and while I got this at the time (I did it when I was newly diagnosed!) it’s probably just finally resonating like church bells in my head.
So check in. Check in with anyone. At anytime. Just check that they are ok. Regardless of whether you think you’re appropriate or inappropriate – a general check in will always make a difference (regardless of how close people have been to me but have made the effort to check in this has made a difference). Thinking about it, this should just apply to life. Never mind someone who has had bad news, a bad day, a good day, a bloody rotten day – check in.
Because we all have to have this journey through life. And we do have it. If I have got this, then everyone I know has this.