When I’m in the hospital I’m very aware that everyone around me in the ward (except of course the staff) also have cancer. I wonder about their stories.
Each of them has been thru a version of what I’ve been through. The initial wondering, the shocking diagnosis, the disbelief, turning eventually to acceptance. Though the disbelief came back now and then for quite a while. Waking up in the morning and remembering after a minute or two that I have cancer. I didn’t have the feeling that I’ve heard expressed of Why me, but I did realise that I had thought that my good diet lowering the risk of colon cancer, I had understood, unconsciously, to be no risk, rather than lowered risk.
I’m assuming that everyone here has been through wondering what has caused their illness, genetics, diet, could they have somehow prevented it.
And perhaps people have been through what for me was quite a big question. Who do I tell? And when, and what exactly. I have a terminal diagnosis. Just writing it now brings tears to my eyes, and I’ve been aware of how shocking it is for people to hear. I still haven’t told some people that I’m ill, even friends, and some people I haven’t told how serious it is. I’m not sure how I’m choosing. Some of it is definitely about how the other person will feel. It’s difficult for me to knowingly cause upset to other people whom I like. I know that I don’t want to be gossiped about, and don’t tell people whom I think will do that- it’s a difficult decision.
Sometimes I think I’ll write to some people who don’t live near by, but so far I haven’t done it. It’s easier to tell people I’m not very close to, I think because I assume they’ll be less upset.
The hardest people to tell have been my children and grandchild. I actually got my partner to do it for me. I know they’re very upset by my situation, of course, but we haven’t really spoken about it.
There are groups available at both the hospital and the hospice that I think would be useful for both me and my partner, but neither of us have joined one, not even the ones that are ‘drop in’. I don’t know why. It would be another step in cementing my identity as a cancer patient. But also would give me support. Most cancer patients are not terminal, and I know I find that difficult. When I hear people chatting on the ward about how many more chemo treatments they’re having, I can’t help crying, so maybe there is a bit of Why me in that reaction. They are looking forward to being cured. Unfortunately I can’t do that, which can make me feel quite alone.