How to Speak to Someone From Cancerland

I’ve been listening to women from Cancerland bitch about how cruely they’ve been spoken to by people who have never been visited by The Guys In The White Van.  Well meaning folk who will say things like, “Wow, you look great!” to someone newly Cancerific.  Heartless folk who chose to blame the newly Cancerific person for becoming Cancerific in the first place.  Plain old stupid folk who say to someone with a new Cancerific wig, “Wow, your hair looks fantastic!  If that is a downside, I’ll take it!” The good-intentioned, the mean, the clueless–all these folk share one thing in common.  They’ve never been in The White Van, and therefore, cannot be trusted or relied upon for a source of support.  Or so it would seem when one (including Yours Truly) is living deep, deep in the bowels of Cancerland.

Really, it is a shame that there isn’t more understanding among the inhabitants of Cancerland for the uninitiated.  However, most of us are living by the words of the Modern Day Prophet Jay-Z, from his inspirational work with Kanye West, ‘N*ggas In Paris:’ ” You escaped what I escaped you’d be in Paris getting f***d up too.”  In other words, until you’ve been inside The Van, we can’t hang, you can’t be my bro (or my N-word), and you certainly can’t make comments about how fantastic I look in spite of the fact that I’ve had my breasts surgically removed and put back together again Humpty Dumpty style.

The problem with this type of thinking, I’ve come to realize, is that we, the Cancerific, have to realize that the uninitiated cannot be blamed for their faulty communication patterns with us.  They really don’t know what to say.  Even if they say the right thing, it will be the wrong thing.  Yesterday’s “Hey, how’s it going?” seemed innocent enough and well-received, yet today it is a scathing remark on how we’ve been keeping up with the housework since we were plunged into the depths of Hell with the keys to our timeshare in Cancerland still on our keyring.  And no, it hasn’t been going well, thank you very much.

Then comes the day you need a hand.  I’m not talking about someone to help you with something–I’m talking about the day you need someone from outside Cancerland City Limits to pull out of the negative mindset that goes along with a Cancerland timeshare.  Suddenly, you realize, perhaps when they don’t come to your immediate aid, that the language you shared before you were plunged into the depths of Hell is gone.  But it isn’t the uninitiated’s fault.  It is the Cancerific folk’s problem, and yes, this time it IS our fault.  Not that we have Cancer, but that we haven’t taught those closest to us the language of Cancerland.  But here’s the thing–unless the have been visited by The Guys In The White Van, they can’t learn it.  Even Cancerland-adjacent folk speak with a different accent.  But really–do you want them be able to understand you fully?  That would mean they, too, have become Cancerific, something none of us would wish on anyone.  Therefore, it is up to those of us with timeshares in Cancerland to relearn the language of the country to which we return.

“Why?,” you might ask?  “Aren’t you blaming the victim again, just like those terrible people who believe negative thoughts or sin or your mother’s first cousin’s overdue library books caused you to be chosen by The Guys In The White Van to become Cancerific?”  I’d have to put the nay-no on this one–because when we return from our visit to Cancerland and become repatriated, we bear with us a sacred charge–to help those who might be new, slowly coming out of their own entanglement with The Guys.  We never know whose friends, spouse, loved one, teacher, even dog has just been visited by The Guys.  We owe it to those who came before us and showed us patience to show patience with those who might not get it right away.  We have to teach them how to communicate with us.

Today I had disagreement with my amazing husband.  His complaint was, basically, I wasn’t pulling my weight in the mornings.  I sleep a lot and he doesn’t have the same opportunity, he protested.  I totally pulled the Cancerific card, especially after going from metastatic to ‘meh’ in one week.  But, I sounded like I should have been rapping with ‘Ye.  I even said, “you escaped what I escaped, you’d be asleep getting rest up, too.”  He wasn’t having it and noisy bickering ensued till the 6 year-old intervened.  Instead, I should have taught him how stressful the past week was, how the non-cancerous sinus infection I have been battling has drained every bit of energy out of my once lithe and sinewy body (OK…I might have been lithe, but sinewy was never in my genetic makeup, unless by sinewy I mean ‘big *ssed”) and that I just needed a little sleep to get my head back in the game.

Because, if I want to get back in the zone, I will need my amazing husband.  I will need the clueless, the mean, and the well-intentioned folk around me, too.  But more importantly, I will need to be a conduit for those stuck on the uncomfortable bridge between being hit in the head by The Guys In The White Van and returning their keys to their timeshares in Cancerland.

I’m definitely in my zone.

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2 Responses to How to Speak to Someone From Cancerland

  1. Just last night a friend said she loved my hair. I told her she could borrow it any time 🙂

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