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No Need to be Positive

Posted 11/30/2013

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  First, a warning: I will not be posting again until Monday, December 9th. My husband and I are flying to Paris tonight to celebrate our birthdays, and part of the celebration involves a mutual promise to stay away from work. Instead, we plan to eat and walk and eat and try to balance those two activities so our clothes still fit next week-end. We are renting an apartment in the 7th arr., as we have done before, and I can't wait!

  Now, for today's important entry. This is a wonderful essay called  Positivity is Bullshit When You Have Cancer by Lauren Sczudlo. I thank Barbara for sending this along. She knew I would love it.

  I spent a fair amount of time trying to convince unhappy and scared women that it is quite okay and even appropriate and reasonable to be feeling that way when dealing with cancer. Too many of them believe (and have been told by many well-meaning but really stupid "friends") that negative thinking will feed the cancer.Therefore, the equation looks like negative thinking=more cancer=more negative thinking=more cancer, and it's all your fault. Not true. I promise.

  I hereby encourage you to feel whatever way you need and want to feel at any particular moment. Yes, of course, feeling sad and scared won't add up to one of your better days, but it most certainly will not influence your cancer health. Here is the beginning and a link:

My eyelashes are mascara-less stumps and I’ve been commando in the same stained, hot pink sweats for 36 hours, butI don’t care. It’s 2011, and my mom and I are at my grandmother’s house in Michigan hoping for some rest after a hellish year spent cycling through chemo, radiation, and surgeries.
Set on a quarter mile cul-de-sac, the condos are built into a gentle slope where the elated cries of grandchildren echoas they race across the shared backyard. Beyond the lawn, families and fishermen float down the shallow river in inner tubes or boats beneath the canopy of ancient oaks and elms that line the riverbed. This year, the river is so shallow that the children step into the centers of their inner tubes to carry their portable yachts to avoid rocky buttscrapes, the water lapping around their ankles. I want to puke.
At gramma’s, I don’t try to keep up appearances. I forgo foundation, scarves to hide my bald head, and the pretense that undergoing chemo, radiation, and a stem cell transplant was some kind of backwards blessing. I think I’m safe from the usual painful judgments about how a cancer survivor should behave. I’m not.
In my boyfriend’s dreary basement apartment, I’d spent weeks wrapped in a blanket in front of the television,only
moving when I needed to go to the bathroom to vomit. I haven’t mustered the energy to visit with even my best friends,because the effort to choose a non-itchy outfit and then follow conversation is too exhausting.
At a lunch date with several other cancer survivors, now close friends and confidantes, I sobbed into my Thai chicken pizza as I tried to explain my frustration that I wasn’t feeling better—Carina was back to normal three months after her transplant—and the insistence of ‘healthy people’ that, to survive, I need to be more positive.


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