In The Buff I’ve been blogging and thinking about cancer and moms this week since my Monday night Stupid Cancer Show interview with Pat Taylor, filmmaker and the mother of a young adult cancer patient.
Today I dug up an outtake from my book, an excerpt from a conversation I had with young adult cancer survivor Chrissy Coughlin about moms. It opened up a different avenue of thought about nudity and cancer care. Here’s Chrissy:
“It was definitely strange when my mom was taking care of me and seeing me unclothed. But then I just got to the point where I felt very comforted by the care. It was like a job for her too. She had to do a lot of work and we had a little system down and you just kind of get over it. At first you’re like, “I don’t want you to see my boobies!” and then you just get over it. You just realize the most important thing is you have a mother there who cares about you that much to be able to help you in that way.”
I could totally relate to Chrissy. I felt the exact same way as I got used to my mom bathing me after surgery and when I was exhausted during treatment. But what about friends seeing me naked?
Silkwood During treatments my sweat became radioactive. I was in isolation for five days and had to scrub myself down in the shower like the scene from Silkwood. It was exhausting. The day my isolation ended, I was too tired to shower. My friend Loren filled a pot and helped sponge bathe me while I sat on a towel on my living room floor. There was also a time when I was so feeble, my friend Anthony helped me to walk to the bathroom and get on and off the toilet. He stood a few feet away with his back turned while I peed.
In my work as a modern dancer and choreographer, I was used to quick costume changes in make shift dressing rooms crowded with men and women. I also lived in crunchy Boulder ” for a while, where it ain’t no thang to strip down naked and hop in a hot tub at a party. I think this made it a bit easier for me to be naked in front of some of my friends during cancer. Have you ever had to be naked in front of friends and family so they could care for you? What was it like? Did it flip you out? Comfort you? Are you any more or less modest since cancer?