I know.. I know... I'm obsessed with talking about race and diversity. Well, that's not entirely true. The times when I'm NOT obsessed with talking about race and diversity are the days when I have to think cancer. I've written a few times about how I feel when my life leaves the realm of race and entres into the world of cancer. My family has been wrecked with cancer -- many have survived; others have not. I'm as active in the cancer world as I am in the race world. And, while I blog about the connections between racism and disability issues, the issues of cancer and race rarely cross paths for me.
So, pardon my detour from blogging about race today -- it's a blog post about cancer. But, it fits into the "to loosen the mind" philosophy in that the intellectual and emotional rationalizations about cancer do force me to think of things differently and reflect on ways to stay flexible in my thinking.
Posts for a different time are how my family was treated when my kid was diagnosed with cancer. Feel free to catch up on some of those!
No, this one is for me. I'm considered a pre-vivor -- someone who is genetically dispositioned to develop cancer at a far more likely rate than the rest of the general population. And, while I've escaped it's ugly claws for now -- my sisters have not been so lucky -- I can't help but think of it as ticking time bomb. I always get this way before an doctor's appointment: sleepless, anxious, trying to tell myself not to worry, but endlessly worrying.
Let's just put it out there -- cancer sucks. I've tried to loosen my mind around this one. But, the truth is, it just plain sucks. I know that I've become a better, stronger person because of what we've gone through having a child with cancer. And, trust me, I'm thankful for the way that has changed my life for the better. I embrace each day. I realize the gift of waking up and hearing my child's voice every morning (believe me, there were mornings where I would be just hope and pray that she was healthy enough to wake up). Material things are unimportant. Time with my family has replaced time to myself.
It's usually after an extended visit with lots of cancer families do I realize cancer trumps race, for me. When we're all sharing stories of struggle, survival, sadness, anxiety, and frustration, we are there as cancer parents or patients. We aren't Black cancer parents/patients, gay cancer parents/patients, single cancer parents/patients. We are just parents. We are just patients. We joke about things like textures of wigs or ethnic acceptance of baldness, but in the end, the root that binds us is our cancer experiences -- our desire to survive.
Decembers always bring up anxiety about cancer, too. It was the month when my oldest sister had her mastectomy at age 37. One year later, my other sister had her mastectomy at age 35. I'm next. It's obviously not this December, but next? The one after that? Will my daughters have to choose their Decembers, too? When your own body is your enemy, what choice do you have?
So, indulge me this one night as I lay awake anxious for my appointment tomorrow. God knows we've been through enough. I'm sure the pregnancy induced Reeses Peanut Butter Sundae isn't helping matters, either.