Making Sense of the Nonsensical

I just read a couple of articles about fearless, beautiful, rad women who rock their bald heads. Many are cancer survivors. They experiment. They make statements, fly on planes, go to rock concerts, attend fashion shoots for Vogue, dance professionally, walk the red carpet at the Grammys, start foundations, smile in photographs, blog, wear tight pants and red lipstick and motorcycle jackets, eat at fancy restaurants, channel Robin Tunney, interview for jobs…

and I just don’t understand how that works. I didn’t do any of those things. Couldn’t. I sat in a recliner for 10 months, wore the same sweatpants and t-shirt and didn’t shower for months at a time. I was in pain every day–physical, tangible pain. I was, literally, full of holes. I oozed body fluids. I didn’t have the strength to hold a cellphone to my ear, let alone talk on it. Even if I did, the hoarseness and coughing from chemo made talking all but impossible. I couldn’t tolerate visitors. I could count the days during my illness when I felt “good” on one hand–and by “good”, I mean the days when I wasn’t trying to crawl out of my own skin–days when I could just sit in my recliner comfortably. I just don’t get it. I was so, so sick. There were medical professionals who took care of me, who would tell you that it was “in my head”. I know that’s a cop-out they resort to when they feel like they’re not in control. I know that. I also know that I did the anti-depressants. They made me…less depressed. I stopped crying all the time; the loop in my head of negative thoughts switched to “off”, I felt peaceful about the fact that I was STILL totally debilitated, physically. The truth is, though, I can’t help but doubt myself. How could I have been that sick, when everyone around me, who goes through cancer, seems to take it in stride, and build brave, new worlds around themselves?

How do they manage to help everyone around them feel less frightened? Better about themselves and the future? How do they manage to make having cancer look like a positive thing? How do they manage to keep from letting the whole world down?


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