Good news travels fast but bad news travels at lighting speed. When I was diagnosed with cancer, the news was shared with a small group of family and friends, trying to keep it private as I tried to wrap my mind around it all. Silly me, before I knew it, I felt like I had gone viral on social media. I received non-stop calls and text messages. It was nice to know so many people cared but it was so exhausting.
Unfortunately, the good intentions of some of my friends and family turned into an awkward situation. For me, in-person visits were kept to a minimum due to the wonderful side effects I would endure, including easily catching any bug someone had. Nevertheless, a group of my friends came to visit me at my house when I was feeling better. I welcomed them in, offered them something to drink and we sat down and started talking. I noticed they looked a bit horrified and uneasy. I figured they don’t know how to react to my situation since we were young. I needed to go get a scarf because my bald head was starting to get cold. When I was walking back, I overheard them trying to figure out if cancer was contagious. One friend said that’s why I’m not drinking anything just in case its contagious, I don’t want to catch this disease. Another friend said, I don’t want to catch it either, that’s why I didn’t hug her. They stopped talking as I made noise advising them that I was making my way back into the living room. They asked me more questions in which I answered trying to educate them but I saw the ongoing terrified look on their faces so I told them thank you for visiting with me but that I was really fatigue and needed to get some rest so they left.
Fast forward two years, one of my friends from this group had her brother who was diagnosed with cancer. I went to go visit with her and her family and she pulled me aside and told me how scared she was for her brother. She told me about how she felt and thought when I had cancer and apologized to me. I smiled at her and gave her a big hug. I told her, it’s okay, you were not informed and held misconceptions about having cancer. Now, you can be a voice to educate others.
Nobody asks to get cancer. People might think that a person must have done something wrong, been bad, or countless other reasons. The truth of the matter is that cancer just happens.