You may think less of me, but this is what I think...
Posted Jan 09 2010 12:00am
My friend Sarah, posted a link to this blog written by a breast cancer survivor about the recent meme that has swept through facebook. The one where women post their bra color in the name of cancer awareness. I participated (bright blue byt the way), but like many things on facebook that are the definition of "flash in a pan", I didn't really think that it would raise much awareness about breast cancer. But, of course, with anything, people are sensitive to it.
The blogger wrote about feeling left out from this meme, that was to raise awareness about her own disease. How it's insensitive to those that have lost their breasts to cancer, because they have no bra to wear. How life is radically changed for them because of the lack of boobs. Part of me feels for them, but a even louder part of me says "Boohoo". Why this shocking lack of compassion, from me? Because I would give up my hair, my breasts, even a leg to have a chance at being cured. But it's not that simple with CF. You can live without boobs. You can live without hair, get by without legs. You can't live without lungs.
Yes, cancer is tough. Chemo, radiation, surgery, and a radical jump from normal life into the world of the sick. You are guaranteed nothing about the outcome, only sure that the journey will be twisty. It's the path that I and all my CF friends walk every day... however, we all know where our journey's outcome will be... death by CF if something else doesn't get us first. Even with secondary cancers, a loss of normal functionality, and a number of other complications, it's not all or nothing with cancer.
Then as these thoughts, these emotions of "I would kill to be able to walk your journey for a cure", I feel horrible for lessening the suffering of another human being. For thinking that they just need to get over their lack of boobs because they are alive. Guess what, clothes don't fit? Oh well, you are alive to wear those clothes! Get funny looks in public because you don't fill out your top, or your hair is only an inch long after chemo... you know why, and you can be proud that you can be out in public. I'm not saying that the blogger in question, or any cancer survivor that is alive isn't absolutely grateful to be alive, but complaints about cosmetic issues that are the sole reason that they are alive really, really hurts me. Because I can't go down and have a body part removed to be healthy. Right now, I'm locked into a life that I will slowly get sicker and sicker. Until I need a lung transplant... where I am waiting on someone else to die... so I can throw my own Hail Mary at life. One, just like any cancer surgery, does not have a guaranteed outcome. But unlike a cancer surviver who gets the label of "cure" after 5 years of no evidence of disease, a lung transplant patient has a 50% chance of being dead at 5 years. If you are alive, you still take handfuls of pills a day, still have to be afraid of every germ that comes your way, and get regular scans to see if the very drugs that are saving your life may have caused cancer. How's that for irony?
I want to shake myself and day "get over it Talana"... at the same time wanting to shake these women that are alive and say "get over it, you're alive"!
Or every year, during childhood cancer awareness, it is common for people to post that cancer kills more than a number of other diseases combined... CF being on that list. I want to vomit every time I read that. Vomit at kids being lost at a cruel killer... vomit at the fact that these kids have a chance at a cure, when CF kids don't, so why are we even equating them. That they deserve more awareness because there are more children dying of cancer? A child dying of anything is not okay. Saying that you deserve a cure because it kills more, at the cost of a list of other diseases? The logical part of me knows that probably isn't what they are saying... but the emotional knee-jerk side callously says "I'd take a child sick with cancer over one with a 100% death sentence." And then I vomit on myself a little for thinking that.
So maybe I should make my own meme... what color of mucus are you coughing up today... post the color in your status for CF awareness... (pea soup green), though it may be insensitive to my CF friends who have new lungs, who don't deal with mucus anymore, but still have CF, but hey, I don't think they'll care that much.