With a cancer diagnosis, the conversations in your life often revolve around the topic of cancer. What about adding a little of the everyday, mundane stories back into your daily conversations?
Dana Stewart was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 at the age of 32. She is the co-founder of a cancer survivorship organization called The Dragonfly Angel Society. She volunteers as an advocate and mentor, focusing on young adults surviving cancer. She enjoys writing about life as a cancer survivor, as well as connecting survivors to the resources, inspirations and stories that have helped her continue to live her best life, available at www.dragonflyangelsociety.com.
After a cancer diagnosis, it seems like every conversation, every topic and every thought revolves around cancer, cancer, cancer. There is so much to be covered and so much to learn before treatment even begins. When I was diagnosed, I had no clue what to expect, so I was as fine as I could be with cancer being the constant topic of conversation. However, after a while, it gets pretty tiresome and even downright scary. All I heard about was surgery decisions – lose my breasts or keep my breasts. My hair will fall out. I’d get rounds of chemo, maybe radiation, maybe not. Here’s a list of seven doctors to see in the next two weeks. Call this number to schedule surgery. The list just went on and on, and it wasn’t long before I wanted to take a vacation from cancer. But at the time, I couldn’t escape cancer permanently. I had a lot to face and I couldn’t run. It obviously was the focus of my life and those around me.
However, one of the key points I noticed was the conversations I had with others. Granted, the support team I had between family and friends was amazing. It blew my mind actually. I knew the people I chose to be a part of my life were special, but I guess I didn’t realize how beyond special they were. They were so supportive. In fact, no one wanted to talk about anything but me and my cancer. That’s not a good thing or a bad thing. I think it “just is” in a time when you deal with something as big as cancer. But I wanted to talk about the everyday! I wanted people to tell me they had a fight with their husband over having the in-laws over for brunch. I wanted to hear that my friend’s kids performed in their first dance recital. I wanted to know that my mom had to stay late at work to get a project done. I wanted the everyday stuff in my life!!
The conversations I had daily always started with the, “How are you feeling?” and “Are you doing OK?” questions. Then I’d ask how they were and I’d get, “Oh, my problems are nothing,” or “You have so much more to worry about.” I’d have to cry out, “No no! I want to hear the mundane, the boring and the everyday – PLEASE!!” It was as if I was begging people to complain and tell me their life stories. Why was this? I wanted the normal. I wanted the everyday. I wanted to know that cancer was just something I was going through and it was something that had an end. At the end of the cancer journey, I wanted to know the mundane and boring life stories were awaiting me. I needed these everyday issues to be there, waiting for me, reminding me I still had a life to live.
Cancer can be overwhelming. That’s a given. The everyday stories, however, are a reminder of who we are and what we are living. To me, they are a reminder that there is still a life to be lived and an enjoyed. It reminds me that there is so much more than cancer whether you are just starting your fight, finished your treatment or smack-dab in the middle. Let your friends and family tell you their so-called boring stories, encourage it in fact! It is a nice anchor in the otherwise chaotic cancer world.