switching shoes

I am sitting here trying to write two emails. (And now, a blog) One, to someone I know who I recently heard has cancer. And the other, to someone I haven’t talked to in awhile who doesn’t know I have cancer.

It’s interesting trying to be two different people at the same time. I have now written a dozen–if not dozens of–emails like the latter, so I could just copy and paste something I have already written. But, I’m a writer, so each email to each different person I tell has to be carefully crafted and spun in such a way to elicit the response that I want. I’m having a hard time. What do I want to hear? I don’t really want to hear anything. I just don’t want to burden or worry anyone, or have them think differently about me because i’m sick.

With the former, the shoe is on the other foot. I am trying to write the email that I want people to write to me. But, not me–someone who has an entirely different sort of cancer and an entirely different journey and, presumably, an entirely different attitude than me. Maybe they don’t want to talk about it like I do. Maybe they don’t want to hear someone else’s bad news when they have their own to deal with. Maybe they’re over it and they want to just forget it and get on with their life.

I am getting a new perspective on how people must see me. I look fine. I act fine, most of the time. To the layperson, cancer is one of two things: it is really bad, or, it is over. So even if people hear about what i’m dealing with, they probably assume that it’s over, and that I don’t want to talk about it anymore. This weird middle area is just so confusing because I think I, too, tend to think in terms of those two things cancer usually is. Sometimes I think I will live a short life. Other times I think I will get a transplant in a few years and I will be part of the minority that it seems to work on. Most times, I think both things at the same time.

I have already written about what you should say to someone who has cancer (or to me) but in practice, it’s not so black and white. I even have a hard time knowing what to say to my new friends who have cancer, so who am I to write about what people should, unequivocally, say to me or anyone else? There’s nothing to say.
So I guess i’ll just put myself in this person’s shoes and say something anyway. Something short and sweet and, what’s the worst thing that can happen? That I don’t get an email back? That I momentarily shatter the someone-I-haven’t-told’s understanding of what should and shouldn’t happen in this world? These might be good things.
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