I love weddings (almost obsessively so) and am thrilled for anyone who is currently engaged. But, sometimes it is damn hard dealing with wedding planning season when you’ve got cancer or a chronic illness.
Being single with cancer and no date at my brother’s wedding was hard. I was in the midst of breaking up with a guy who couldn’t say the word “cancer”. I was so happy for my brother and didn’t want to feel like a self-pitying sister or that I was detracting from his moment. I tried to keep my mouth shut about it all. I also dreaded all of the guests telling me how grrrreat I looked in that wacko-cancer-pity-adoration way. But for all of my angst leading up to it, I decided to go totally solo, not even bring a friend date and it was the most fun wedding I’ve been to.
When it rolled around to my own wedding a few years later, I thought hard about whether at I would thank the people in my life who have been there for me during “hard times” (code words for “cancer”.) I decided to thank people for other things, that cancer didn’t belong at my wedding. But sometimes it isn’t possible to compartmentalize life like that; life just bleeds on through. It’s challenging to hide baldness at a wedding or scars decorating your body. And you can’t hide your absence at a wedding because you were too sick to go.
It’s hard to transition from staring death in the face to embracing unlimited love. Take for example Dana, a leukemia patient in my book Everything Changes, who said: “At my rehearsal dinner, I went into a bathroom stall and sobbed my eyes out. I could not believe I was at my own rehearsal dinner after everything that I went through. My friend came into the stall and sat with me. I just needed her to be there while I got it all out. It was like I suppressed all of these feelings because they were too big for my brain. It was like, ‘Look at where I’m at, I’m alive, I’ve met this man.’ I had to let them out.”
Wedding budgets, gifts, puking on your bouquet. As a bride, groom, member of the wedding, or just a guest, what are some of the challenges that you’ve faced because of your illness? Do you have any weddings coming up this year?