11 Dec


People who have never had cancer simply lack the perspective to understand the day-to-day realities of living with the disease.  If you haven’t experienced it, it just isn’t possible to fathom what patients go through.  Even people who spend a lot of time around cancer patients, such as caretakers, don’t have a good idea of what it feels like to have the disease.

It can be frustrating to deal with people who lack perspective.  People who think that you should be able to get back with them immediately when they phone or email you, not taking into account that you may be feeling too ill to be social.  People who have preconceived notions about what you should be able to do, never having experienced how chemo and other cancer-related medications devastate the body and mind.  People who think that their personal situation is the most awful thing that could happen to anybody.

Sometimes you just have to sit there and tell yourself, It’s okay.  Someday, in the future, when they become one of the 41% of the American public who develop cancer in their lifetime, they’ll change their tune.

Once I went to the pulmonologist for an asthma test.  The test consists of breathing into a tube normally, then sucking in a deep breath and blowing into the tube the way you blow into a breathalyzer.  (I’ve never blown into a breathalyzer before, but I’ve been in the campus health center when kids came in to be treated for alcohol poisoning.)

I performed the test twice — once before and once after a nebulizer breathing treatment (which is also just breathing normally into a tube — the only difference is that you’re breathing medicated air).  Afterwards, the nurse came up to me and asked if I was all right.  A lot of people say this is the worst test they’ve ever had to do in their life,” she confided.

I kind of looked at her cross-eyed and said, I’m fine… after all, I’ve had brain surgery twice.”

A definite lack of perspective.


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