When I was a new blogger, one of the earlier topics I posted on was titled To Tell or Not to Tell wherein I discussed the stigma of cancer and patients’ dilemma whether to tell or not to tell others about their affliction. I wrote that I had emailed my two sisters – the eldest in Manila, the youngest in Dallas – after a series of tests and imaging that the diagnosis of the tumor in my left lung was cancer stage 4. Immediately their emails came to a screeching halt, leaving me baffled.
For days, in order to deal with the shock of my diagnosis and my sisters’ abandonment, I scoured the internet and educated myself on cancer. I found Inspire.com and read it voraciously. Finally, I figured out why my sisters simply stopped communicating with me. At first I let them stay quiet. Consequently I enjoyed the relief because those women talk too much. Okay, in fairness, I admit I do the same. That’s what we do – give each other earaches .
Then one day, I broke it to my siblings gently. I told them I learned from my research that people react differently to news of a loved one having a cancer diagnosis. Some stop communicating because they are uninformed about the dreaded disease. They simply don’t know what to say to a person with cancer. I had barely hit the Send button when their emails rushed in. They thanked me profusely for breaking the ice. They said they had friends who did not want to be contacted after they received cancer diagnosis. They figured I’d have the same attitude. What were they thinking?
I have personally chosen to tell the world through blogging that I have lung cancer, once with cancer, always with cancer, but there’s always hope. It is my way of giving back – informing and enlightening cancer patients and caregivers – after surviving the 2012 dire prognosis of 8 months to live.
Last year, faced with a second widowhood after 8 years of remarriage, I decided to stay in the retirement resort in Southern Orange County, California where the tragedy happened. I thought, That’s it. What man would be interested in a twice-widowed senior chick with lung cancer stage 4? Forget them! I’ll join the Foodies club, Cannabis Club, Hiking Club, etc. and fill my cup.
Hey, never underestimate the power of a senior string-bikini babe!
The over-55 retirement community’s latest demographic report states there are 6 men for every 10 women in the resort. I disagree. In the sphere where I move, there are 4 men to 1 woman. Of course the sphere is super small, as in a corner of the hot whirlpool where we meet every weekday evening to tackle the world’s problems. As an engineer in my past life, I blended in easily. One of the men sees me outside the pool at other times and we discuss exciting things like Bring Your Own Everything (BYOE) dances. I have occasional lunches with another man from another sphere. A teetotaler and a zero conversationalist, he rants about politics and gives me an earache. Win some, lose some.
Both seniors asked me, separately, How do you keep busy? My answer: I blog. About what? they asked. My answer: About cancer. I am a cancer survivor. Wouldn’t you know! Their next words surprised me. Both of them turned out to be stage 4 cancer survivors – prostate for one, skin for the other. They told only because I told. I told because I had to.
So there we have it. I still tell. And telling has consequences, like learning I am not alone, hearing other survival stories, political rants, BYOE dances, etc.
How about you?