I like to think of myself as a low maintenance kind of gal. I roll with the punches, I’m game for just about anything. I can always find something to eat at a restaurant, I don’t mind taking the middle seat on a long car ride, and I try to make lemonade out of lemons, or at least, a pretty center piece for my kitchen table.
Cancer changes all of that. One of my least favorite phrases that has entered my vocabulary is “Yes, but…” As in “Yes, it would be great to see you, but CrabbyCancerMan and I aren’t up a tandem bungee jump.” “Yes, person who I am professionally acquainted with, but I’m either available right this second, or a week from Tuesday, unless you want to meet at 1:30am.” “Yes, we’d love for you to bring a meal, and thank you, but it has to be soft, high in fat, and blah blah blah blah blah.”
Sure, everyone understands, and since they want to be helpful, they’re willing to take the instruction. And if I want the help offered to be truly helpful, I need to give direction. At the same time, a part of me feels like this goes against everything I have ever been taught about being gracious. When someone offers you a gift, you say thank you. You don’t get to use the present until you write a thank you note. And you certainly don’t get to pick what you’re getting.
A lot of this cancer thing is a lesson in counter-intuitiveness. When one has a cold, one listens to one’s body, and gets better. When you’re tired, you sleep. When you’re hungry, you eat. When you’re snotty, you blow. With cancer, if you’re tired, you should sleep, but you can’t sleep too long or you won’t get enough calories in, so you need to wake up and eat something every once in a while, and there are medications that need to be taken on a schedule that may keep you up, or knock you out, or need to be taken in sequence with other medications. So while you need to pay attention to what the body is saying, sometimes, you need to do what needs doing regardless of the message .
Yes, I am sure there is a lesson in all of this, but would it be fair to say this isn’t the way I want to learn it?