Words have a lot of power, especially words around cancer, and it was one of the reasons I had put off telling my family and friends who weren’t on Facebook or read my blog regularly that we are dealing with another scare. In my Family post of last week – I was debating whether to tell my sisters that were over from Australia for niece S’s wedding whether or not I was waiting to hear about whether ‘Gertrude’ had metastasised to lung or bone. In the end I did although I still hadn’t decided whether I would or not until the situation presented itself. SisT bought a new boyfriend with her from Australia and they arrived after we did but ended up sitting directly in front of us. She introduced me to L and then said “How are you going?” in a concerned voice. L looked at her, silently questioning her concern, and she said “She’s had Breast Cancer twice” . That took me aback because I don’t actually think of it that way and when she repeated the question my “I’m doing OK” reply didn’t come out with the level of conviction that I had intended. So I told her that we were waiting to hear this week . I then thought I had better tell SisH as well and did so after the ceremony, during the reception.
OH visited his mother yesterday and told her and I told my friend S (who isn’t on Facebook) who had been texting me trying to arrange a catchup. I then thought I better ring AE the only one of my closer Uni friends that I hadn’t talked to in the last week to check that she had seen it on Facebook or been told so it didn’t come as a shock to her. We are planning a get-together at the end of the week and I didn’t want her to feel left out if the topic came up (whether the news is good or bad) – she had seen it on Facebook and been reading my blog but hadn’t commented so our conversation was easier than some of the others.
We discussed the way things are worded and the fact that although SisT uses “she has had Breast cancer twice” or OH told his boss in this post about “waiting to see whether her cancer has come back for the third time” – it’s not actually how I think of it. I feel that those words makes it seem worse than I actually perceive it. As much as I acknowledge the recurrence I don’t so much think of it as a thing to count as a separate countable ‘entity’ I tend to think of it as more of a continuation of the same, that ‘Gertrude’ came back. Like wise I put myself as a IBC survivor not a 2x survivor although by some reckonings that’s what I am.
We then started to joke about the fact that I had jokingly thought that if ‘she’ was back this time I should change my blog’s name to ‘Get Out and Stay Out Gertrude’ because ‘she’ obviously isn’t getting the message. That I should issue ‘her’ with a trespass notice or harassment order. Thus words can make it seem less threatening.
Words around cancer can be scary, but they don’t have to be.