As I have mentioned many times, the great life lessons a person is supposed to garner following a cancer diagnosis escape me. I have had no epiphany. Cancer is transforming alright, but not in a good way, at least not for me. I have not magically morphed into some new and improved version of my former self. And other than meeting some wonderful people, I give cancer no credit for anything other than heartache and upheaval. Cancer sucks. Period.
I remain a resistant cancer learner and sometimes I wonder why this is.
These days when a cancer survivor type story floats through my social media news feeds with a headline or title suggesting the writer has learned much from her cancer experience, grown to realize what’s important in life or reorganized her priorities as a result of cancer, I generally don’t click anymore. I just can’t do it.
I try hard to respect how others handle their cancer experiences, but I also have to respect how I handle mine.
After my diagnosis, for a long time I couldn’t figure out why there was this pressure to find the good in a shitty situation like cancer.
I understand why many people think it’s better to search for meaning, to find a reason for the shit storm of cancer. For some, this personal evolution of self is a very real, very important and very worthwhile tool to implement as a way to absorb, process and accept a cancer diagnosis. It obviously works for many.
But the positive transformation theory, or in other words, the “I’ve come out a better person post-cancer diagnosis theory,” just doesn’t work for me.
Early on I used to wonder why it didn’t. I used to wonder what was wrong with me.
Sometimes I still do.
I wondered why I couldn’t see the lessons I was supposed to learn from cancer.
Again, sometimes I still do.
Then one day I realized perhaps I didn’t want to see them.
This, too, made me feel like I was doing something wrong, like there was something wrong with me. I mean, who wouldn’t want to see the lessons of a life-altering experience?
And then finally it sunk in that not only was it okay to not see the lessons of cancer, it was okay to not want to see them. In other words, it was fine to not want to hand over credit for anything positive at all to cancer. Because again, as far as I’m concerned, cancer sucks. Period.
Even now, seven years after my diagnosis, I still have days when I wonder why I am such a cancer rebel. I still sometimes wonder what’s wrong with me. I still sometimes wonder why I so adamantly refuse to drink the pink Kool Aid. I still wonder why I am such a determinedly resistant cancer learner.
If and when I figure it out, you’ll be the first to know.
For now, as far as I’m concerned…
I am beyond weary of reading about the “positives” of breast cancer.
Breast cancer did not give me a new outlook on life, it did not make me begin to re-examine my life and priorities and it did not morph me into some new and improved version of myself. My outlook, life and priorities were doing fine before breast cancer. I have learned no great life lessons. I did not need the wake up call.
I realize many people view their cancer experiences quite differently and some see my way as being negative. I’ve been told as much from time to time. So be it.
Breast cancer (any cancer) is an awful disease that far too many still die from. It’s not some grand opportunity to reinvent yourself, at least it hasn’t been for me.
Enough with the spin. Cancer sucks. Period.
That’s my story. And I’m sticking with it.
What about you?
Have you learned life lessons from cancer?
Do you believe in the positive transformation (post-cancer diagnosis) theory?
Are you weary of reading about the “positives” of breast cancer, too, or is just me?
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