Negotiating identities in multiple worlds

By | July 8, 2014

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.

2 thoughts on “Negotiating identities in multiple worlds

  1. Kathy Hogue
    Your blogs have helped a great deal , to know how you and Scott are handling the situation is amazing. It has helped me to understand and accept reality when I should be doing that for you. I love you both and pray all goes well. Keep up the blogs.
    Thank You
    Mom
    Reply
  2. Scott Johnson
    Interesting observation on where you fit in the people with cancer demographic. Took a certificate course in “Hope Studies” through the U of Alberta few years ago. Sadly, it was cancelled after two of the three semesters. I was impressed with the program base though as it combined people from all ages and diseases (sounds like a slogan for some retreat near Big Sur) so it became more a survival tips group. Know the woman who wrote and directed the program and I’ll see there’s any material left.

    What I found most valuable in the course was just being people together without categories. Some had cancer, some heart disease, etc. The mix stopped that stream of bitterness and feeling cheated that being ill can engender. Sympathy and support were there but not total tolerance of whining. Having to explain why you are down was expected and seemed very important.

    Day after first chemo? How are you?
    Scott

    Reply

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