(photo courtesy Archives.gov, one of my favorite websites)
Social Rights for Cancer .... People
(one woman's perspective)
Once you are diagnosed with cancer, you immediately inherit a brand-spanking new group of inalienable rights. At least, you should. Here are some thoughts from someone who has been a caregiver/patient/advocate/observer/concerned friend for a good bit of time.
You get to choose your title.Probably not "Tsar" or anything like that, but now that I mention it, sure. You can call yourself a Tsar. Or patient, survivor, thriver, pink, warrior, hero, fighter, flower mama, fragile patient, stalwart trooper, pink power mom, angry advocate, sparkly unicorn cancer princess - it doesn't matter. You can call yourself wizard for all I care. This is your trek, you own the rights as if you are a member of the Plantagenet dynasty.
Scars.Show them. Have them photographed, gloriously, and put on giant canvases for a world-wide gallery tour. Because, beautiful! Or hide them, cover completely and make your cancer your own business, for no one else to know. Your path, your choice, your decision. Social media should bow to your options if you choose to share pics of these bad boys, too - remember, you are now fully titled.
Hair.Rainbow Afro Wig? Yes, please. Bald with a henna tattoo? You betcha. Scarf, ballcap with little fake bangs, motorcycle helmet, skullcap, lace doily? Okey dokey. Not one single thing except your shiny head? Yep. The general non-title cancer society is permitted to say only one thing when observing your new choice of headware: "you look amazing!". That is all. (Please note: when you compliment us on our wig by saying something like 'gosh you can hardly tell that is a wig' you automatically identify the fact that we are sporting a horrific wig, like some gaudy toupee. So stick to the 'amazing' line.)
Treatment.Are we making morning smoothies with magic pond scum from Madagascar as part of our holistic therapy? Maybe. Our decision, not yours. Do we know that chemotherapy/radiation/everysinglething under the sun is toxic? Yep. Do we want to hear it from your mouth? No, unless you are an oncologist. More specifically, our personal oncologist. Have we tried yoga, did we know that your sister/aunt/cousin's step-dog became miraculously cured after visiting a special doctor in Mexico? Good on 'em, but really, unless we specifically say 'hey, can you tell me everything you've ever heard about cancer', please don't.
Friends, we've really tried to talk to our docs and nurses about everything. The icky, hard, awkward and downright embarrassing things. Sometimes we even email them at 2 am if we hear about some new miracle drug and want to learn more. We live this stuff, so there are very few things you might tell us that we haven't heard before. BUT please know, we love that you try. That you want to help. And we understand that you might just not know what to say, or how to help.
For that, I respectfully guide you to a handy-dandy list of things to do to help us.
Heidi. (my title: Pink Floyd)