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Superstitious Behavior in the Face of Cancer

Sometimes you can find comfort and a little bit of relief in an irrational (and a bit silly) behavior.
What is a superstition? For me, it’s believing that something I can do, say, wear, etc. will have an influence on something completely unrelated. Baseball fans might say it is wearing the exact same clothes during World Series games or making sure the salsa that was put in bowls during the win of game 1 is the same salsa placed in the same bowls during game 2. A little nuts, right?

I have a confession to make.

I do the same thing with my cancer treatment. 

I had my first chemotherapy treatment in January of 2015 and the same treatments continued every week through July of 2015, then changed to once every three weeks through the foreseeable future (knock on wood…) and also involve scans every three months and various other tests.

And for every single one of these visits to the hospital and to see the oncologist when she would be giving me scan results, I have worn colorful striped socks from Esprit and lime green undergarments.

That sartorial consistency is not a coincidence. Why would I change what I have worn when the news has been as good as it can be? Maybe my underwear is responsible? 

The one time when I could only find bright pink undergarments, I told myself that it was OK because it was similar enough — bright, colorful — to the lime green to go unnoticed by whatever evil force might decide against me based on my failure to wash those lime green items.

Silly? Yes. I know it when I am getting dressed on those mornings and I know it as I am writing this. But will I stop? No. 

Talk about this article with other patients, caregivers, and advocates in the Breast Cancer CURE discussion group.
Martha lives in Illinois and was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in January 2015. She has a husband and three children, ranging in age from 12 to 18, a dog and a lizard.
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