I find myself living between two worlds – or perhaps more – negotiating my different identities.
Anyone who gets breast cancer under 45 is considered to be ‘young’, so I’m re-negotating what it means to be a young cancer patient. In church, we had groups for young adults age 18-35 and I remember the very awkward transition that happened as I could not relate to the younger group. We ended up starting our group of 30-40 somethings that allow us discuss spiritual and life issues in an environment we could relate (eg. kids, career orientated jobs, mortgages, marriages).
With the cancer groups, I find that professional I relate to the 55 ish old women. These are women who have established professional careers (consults, or other professionals). It is a peer group that I can relate to – however, I don’t have the same kinds of cancers they do. I find that when they hear of my cancer it scares them – because is it not what my first surgeon called “old lady cancer’. They have slow growing cancers with life expectancy outcomes in range of 95-98%. They are the survivors.
The young cancer group has so much more to detail with, in many ways. They usually have more aggressive cancers. They are often raising young children (or early teens). They have family obligations and concerns. Some have great support but others are just amazingly powerful women that just power through cancer treatment without asking for help from their families. From this perspective. I’m not that strong, or perhaps a little wiser. My bike trip (http://goingeast.ca) has shown me that people want to help – and sometimes it is better for the people in your lives if you can provide them with concrete ways to help.
I do find that my empathy levels for others has increased. I worry about how my fiends and family are adjusting. So, although I may blog a lot about myself and how I”m feeling at a particular time, I do it with a worry about how others will feel when they read it. What will help others understand.
I often find myself forgetting to send out thank-you to those who have sent cards and well wishes. I want to say that I really appreciate everything that has come my way – I just cannot keep track of it all, nor track down everyone to say a personal thank-you. But I do want to say it hear. I greatly appreciate all the support and kinda words I am getting. I hope my short thank-you is enough for you to understand that you too are in my thoughts and heart.