Just hours into my cancer diagnosis, I was forced into the intensely uncomfortable position of all cancer patients: Who do I let in? And how far? Jon and I watched each other, imagining how each scenario could play out, and the implications of different approaches. Maybe I’ll just skip it and not even call was quickly dismissed. No integrity there. A vague, non-answer for a last-minute cancel—something came up—would certainly give the impression that I was a flake. So how about just throwing it out there? When I’d test it out in a mock call, simply saying the word “cancer” would tie me up into silence. It felt far too intimate for these near strangers, when I couldn’t even believe the words yet myself. Jon just listened, nodding with how incredibly awkward it was. Even though Jon was with me, the decision on how to navigate this was mine alone. I’ve always hated people telling me what to do, but right now, with so much to take in at once, it would be nice if someone could take the decision-making burden from me. And since I’m ordering up fairy tales, let’s just go ahead and make it an all knowing, enlightened, perfect and easy decision.
I decided to let people in; I didn’t know how to be any other way. Because I love people, and in particular, the sincerity of our relationships with one another. I value the honesty in people sharing their truths. They invite connections that help us to better understand each other. I couldn’t imagine acting out one life while pretending my new reality didn’t exist. I started making a series of phone calls in which I said “I have cancer” over and over.
This was really happening.
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