As I See it
By Treena Bray
Funny how the mind works in life and what you think about and when. I am by no means any sort of writer – but like most people, I guess I think I am clever with words from time to time. So here is my first foray into writing something that I think I would like to share with all of you.
I have breast cancer, I was diagnosed just under 2 years ago with a fairly aggressive strain but we caught it in time and I went thru a solid year of fairly heavy treatment followed by some targeted therapy. I had great results and I was hopeful this was one & done but I am not. My journey is now continuing with a tumour showing up in my brain… and now 1 week post brain surgery (unreal to even consider) I am just still collecting my thoughts and feelings, and obviously resting to prep for the new battle ahead, to quote Shawn Mendez – it isn’t in my blood to give up.
So, when you see people that maybe don’t have any experience with cancer and they find out you have cancer, sometimes you get the person that says their polite “I am so sorry, that must be so hard…” I think we know the general idea here. Let me be clear, I am not at all judging, I have been one of those people prior to my diagnosis – I get it. It’s a super uncomfortable topic and what the heck do you really say??
The other half of people that you share this news with, maybe some have limited or arms reach experience, what I mean is that they have someone close but are not the primary caregiver or have not had cancer themselves. I find often with these people, and I know they are doing their best to be encouraging – their comments always seem to be along the variety of them trying to tell you how their cancer person is fine and therefore you will be great… Greaaaat, that is amazing, thanks so much for your prognosis… yes, they have made amazing advances in cancer treatment. This comment happens more often than not, and again I am not judging at all, but I also try to find humour in everything, even if it is only the wry humour.
At my daughter’s band concert last night, I had a lovely lady tell me that her brother has exactly what I am going thru right now… exactly the same thing. I am thinking “oh really, he has breast cancer 2 years ago and now they suspect it has possibly gone to his brain? hmmmm…. Isn’t that interesting!” Now she is a very educated gal, warm & kind and … most importantly she plays an important role in my daughter’s life and I have nothing but respect for her. I know she was trying to be encouraging, I really do see that, but I am pretty positive that if I had asked even one specific question (and I am just spit ballin here because brain cancer is all new to me!) like is it primary or secondary? – the blank look and confusion would have washed over her face.
If I had to explain the disease of cancer to someone right now I would say cancer is like a car. Let’s look at this, there are many cars… if I was asked to stand up and, instead of cancer, I was to say I have a car – no one would be satisfied with that answer because as we all know, a car is such a small description in the context of the world. Details would be needed, what kind of car, is it an SUV, A truck, a compact, gas, electric, hybrid? How big is it, which brand and which model… hopefully my little musing over this comparison is starting to spark some interest as you see where I am coming from.
I haven’t even brought up the age of the car, or how well was it maintained? Where are you driving this car – do we have a Lamborghini driving in rural Alberta on grid roads? Or do we possibly have a motorbike in wintertime in K country?
That is cancer – even the same type of cancer is never the same, and unless you have been on this journey in an intimate way, it is so hard to even start to explain how complex it is to have and be treated for cancer. So I have decided that the next time I have to enter into one of those conversations, I think I am just going to begin with, I have cancer and I also have a car… both/either are so incredibly similar that if you want to know more, please think about all of the cars in this world and let me know if you want to hear more.