I received the following comment from a reader on my blog post My Psychology of Cancer, and I feel it is worthy and deserving enough to have its own special place. It’s for anyone who has suffered cancer, is suffering cancer, knows someone who has cancer or is looking after someone with cancer. Or for anyone one else who has an open mind and a warm heart.
I too had cancer a couple of years ago. Mine was not one of the cancers that people so freely talk about. It was ano-rectal cancer. People didn’t know what to say or how to react when I told them I had ano-rectal cancer. I could not understand the reaction. As they averted their eyes, I wondered what questions were poised to blurt out of the dropped jaws. Were they embarrassed by the mention of the anus? Were they trying to figure out how I went to the bathroom after surgery? Were they wondering “How does one get ano-rectal cancer?” The answers to those questions set in order are: I bet they were. I bet they were, but I would never say. Lastly, I wish I knew – it, like many cancers, just happens.
Lung cancer they could understand, breast cancer they could understand and even have 5 km runs to support research. But ano-rectal cancer! Who gets that!? I could see the embarrassment on their faces. Ironically I found myself trying to assuage their discomfort. It was very difficult to explain to people that I had no idea how or when or why, just that it was a frightening diagnosis. I was numb. But decided there was nothing to do but to hunker down and fight…fight…fight! The alternative tact was one I never really gave thought to – which was to ignore it and die.
After the diagnosis, I was coached by everyone, even total well-meaning strangers on staying positive through treatment. I was also given a CD, by a wonderful nurse, herself a breast cancer survivor, who advised that I to listen to this CD every day after radiation as it promised to “guide me through the wellness …