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Do You Ever Feel Like a Cancer Misfit?

Do you ever feel like a cancer misfit? 

If you do or ever have, you’re not alone.

I have written about the walls in Cancer Land. The divisions. The rifts. The hierarchies. Today, let’s talk about fitting in, or rather, not fitting in.

Cancer or no cancer, have you ever struggled to fit in? 

Who hasn’t, right?

Share about a time you struggled to fit in with a comment below, if you want to.

I’ll go first.

As an awkward preteen, I stood half a foot taller than my older sisters. I’d often be asked, why are you the tallest if you’re the youngest (of the sisters)?

Yeah, dumb question.

When you’re already feeling awkward for umpteem reasons at that age, getting asked a ridiculous question like that sure didn’t make me feel better about being tall. And btw, I’m not even tall. It’s just that in my family I am.

And do you remember high school?

Yeah, me too.

Flash forward a bunch of decades into my post-cancer diagnosis life.

Sometimes, even today, I feel like a cancer misfit.

What about you?

Do you ever feel like a cancer misfit?

What do I mean?

Well, let me give you some examples.

As a brca2+ person, I belong to a couple online groups that were set up to support others like me, meaning other brca+ people. I sorta fit in. I sorta don’t. Sure, I embrace that whole knowledge is power idea. But heck, I didn’t even want to find out about my potential genetic mutation at first.

(Long story. Read my memoir, if you’re interested.) I procrastinated about all that, too, and look where that got me.

Yep. Sometimes I feel like a misfit.

I am not an advocate who travels across the country attending conferences or one who deciphers the latest scientific articles as so many of my fellow advocates who I greatly admire do. I traveled across the country once to attend a Living Beyond Breast Cancer advocacy event. It was a good experience, but the traveling advocate role is not for me. I just wanna stay home. I choose to advocate via my keyboard.

So, perhaps I’m an advocate misfit too.

I wasn’t young when I was diagnosed. I wasn’t old either. Okay, not that old. Younger than the “typical” breast cancer patient at diagnosis anyway.

Yep. Misfit.

I am not a fan of the rah-rah, wear pink, sisterhood camaraderie sort of groups.

Misfit.

I have chosen never to sugarcoat my cancer experience. I believe sharing the ugly sides of breast cancer can be uplifting in a weird (but necessary) sort of way, too. Lots of people will never understand my approach or even try to understand because they don’t want to understand.

Misfit.

I cannot find silver linings in this cancer mess. Heck, I don’t even want to find silver linings in cancer. I still say, cancer sucks. Period.

Can we just stop trying to re-frame it as something it’s not?

Misfit.

And the labels. I rarely refer to myself as a survivor, in fact, the label sorta makes me cringe. And yet, even after nine years, I have yet to come up with a label that fits that non-cancer people understand.

And don’t label me as strong, brave, courageous or anything else either. I was pretty much a wimpy cancer patient. Still am.

Misfit.

My heart and soul is with my sisters and brothers who are metastatic, but I don’t completely fit in with them either. (Not that I want to.)

Misfit.

Only a handful of bloggers who were blogging when I started are still blogging.

Why am I still at it?

Misfit.

I am the only one of my siblings who’s had a cancer diagnosis. (Thank God.)

But still, misfit.

I know I’m supposed to be more grateful for my reconstructed chest. But honestly, I’m not all that satisfied with it.

Misfit. 

People assume I have moved on and just shelved all that cancer stuff. I’ve moved forward, but on – that’s another matter.

Misfit.

I could go on and on, but you get my point.

And yes, of course, I know I’m supposed to follow my own advice and “do cancer” and cancer survivorship my way. Ditch the expectations. Ditch the guilt.

Be real. Be me. I mean, I’m always telling you, Dear Readers, this.

And yet, why is it still so hard?

Misfit.

I wrote this post because like usual, I am wondering if you have ever felt the same.

If you have, please tell me about it.

If you want to read more articles like this one, Click Here.

Do you ever feel like a cancer misfit?

Or maybe just a misfit in general?

When you feel like you don’t fit in or don’t measure up, what do you do?

If you liked this post, please share it. Thank you!

 

Do You Ever Feel Like a Cancer Misfit? #breastcancer #cancer #patient #womenshealth #mentalhealth

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Helen

Sunday 1st of August 2021

I had lobular cancer. Just completed 5 months of chemo and am recovering from a bilateral mastectomy. I work with cancer patients in a leading cancer center so my treatment has been wonderful and I have had lovely caregivers to support me. But right now I am angry. This isn’t a “journey” or the “big C” or any of those other awful euphemisms. It’s cancer and it sucks and quite honestly I could have gone my whole life without this first hand experience! I don’t wear pink, walk in cancer events and don’t belong to a support group. I may consider therapy sometime down the road. Unfortunately I have a sibling with Stage IV pancreatic cancer. The family’s focus has been on him as it should be. Family dynamics amount the siblings are a little strained so I have chosen to be somewhat quiet about my health. Just sharing dates of treatment, surgeries and outcomes. Avoiding the stress has made life easier. So because I am quiet about my experience, share with only a chosen few and don’t buy into the labels and breast cancer agenda I have been labeled odd or ungrateful. My life is good, I have an incredible husband and I am receiving great medical care. I guess I am a happy misfit.

Helen

Sunday 1st of August 2021

Just dawned on me that I am both angry and happy. I guess it’s possible

Helen

Wednesday 30th of June 2021

"I am not a fan of the rah-rah, wear pink, sisterhood camaraderie sort of groups." Well thank goodness I'm not the only person who feels like that! I tried a dragon boat group once, all women who have had BC. All well and good until the 'let's stand in a circle and hold hands thing and praise the Sisterhood'. Okay for some, not for me, never went back. Cancer does not define me or my life. I also hate 'survivor', especially as I just lost my big sister to it, who lost her son to the rotten disease a year ago. I can't even celebrate my ninth anniversary of remission because I feel bloody 'survivor' guilt right now. I also think some people find me confronting about my experience because I am very frank, I don't faff around the edges, just tell it how it was for me. When the old chestnut comes up, 'you've got the all clear now, haven't you', I reply that I will be all clear when I die of old age.

Nancy

Thursday 8th of July 2021

Helen, Oh gosh, you are most definitely not the only one. That's an interesting story you share about the dragon boat group. I can understand how that made you not want to go back. I'm sorry to hear about your sister and your nephew. Survivor guilt is pretty common even though we know we needn't feel it. I hope you can ease up on yourself regarding that. I say, good for you for being frank when speaking about your experience. We need more of that. Thank you for sharing.

Ash

Wednesday 30th of June 2021

Diagnosed young, but not BRCA+. Misfit.

Had a double mastectomy with no chemo or radiation (thankfully), and then, more or less, got on with my life. Misfit.

Really can't figure out how to fit in with the "sisterhood" squads. Misfit.

Also feel weird about the "Survivor" badge. At stage 1, survival was not in question. Misfit.

Sometimes I feel like I had it too easy, like I'm some kind of fraud to wear the cancer badge. And yet, I don't fit into the normal, healthy crowd, either.

Menopause, joint pain, and other health issues in my 30s from Tamoxifen. Not normal.

Cold, unfeeling reconstructed "foobs" with unnatural ripples when I bend over. Not normal.

I could go on, but in this crowd, I know I don't have to. Thanks for reminding me that I'm not the only one feeling this way.

Nancy

Thursday 8th of July 2021

Ash, You are definitely not the only one feeling this way. And you needn't feel like you had it too easy. Marginalizing your experience is not fair - even when you're the one doing it, maybe especially then! Thanks for chiming in here with your fellow misfits. :)

Amy

Wednesday 30th of June 2021

Total misfit. Zero problems, zero pain with DIEP reconstruction. Only the "usual" issues with chemo, i.e., gastro problems, skin rash, etc. But then came Herceptin on its own and anti-hormonals. I continue to grapple with horrendous side effects some of which my onc has never seen before. So when everyone thinks my cancer experience is over, the worst is happening. I feel totally alone.

Nancy

Wednesday 7th of July 2021

Amy, I'm sorry you feel so alone. In this space, I hope you know you are not.

Lise W.

Thursday 18th of June 2020

Yes, I've always felt kinda like an alien just visiting this planet. Luckily, being in high school in the 80s, it was "in" to be different/creative but it's become MUCH harder as I get older and my health has changed.

Developing epilepsy in my 20s...misfit. Younger than 90% of other patients I see at hospital/clinic/support groups & Stage IV BC at diagnosis....misfit. Learning I am Asperger's on the Autism spectrum (Yes, we have feelings, friendships, & are capable of empathy!!!).....misfit. Weird reactions to medications/rare SEs/local anaesthetics NOT working on my body...misfit That last one led to many doctors invalidating my experience and SO MUCH suffering during procedures & biopsies without any freezing!!! Ouch!!!

We are all unique in our responses to meds (those darn AIs, right?!) but not many people know that most meds are not even tested on female animals, let alone women. Women are seen as "Misfits" due to our hormones being seen as "too complicated" despite the fact that we make up about 54% of the population! (This has started to get addressed in past 5 years so there is some positive progress there.)

Another topic that resonates with so many of us!

Nancy

Monday 22nd of June 2020

Lise, Thank you for sharing the various reasons why you've often felt like a misfit. It doesn't seem okay to me that you felt invalidated and suffered through recent procedures and biopsies. I'm sorry. Interesting point about women being seen as misfits in testing/research scenarios. Hadn't thought about that in a while. Hope you're doing alright. Thanks again for sharing.

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