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Why Does That Uninvited Guest Keep Showing Up?

This past February on my birthday I posted about the Uninvited Guest that showed up at my birthday party a few years back.

You know the guest; the one who is never welcome, never knows when to leave and can’t seem to stay in its proper place for very long.

Recently that uninvited guest made another unexpected appearance at my dad’s 85th birthday party. This time the uninvited guest was quieter, more just lurking around in the background. I don’t think anyone else noticed, but I did.

Yes, that “uninvited guest” was cancer.

I would really like to know, why can’t “cancer” just stay away? Why is it always there, as if waiting for the next opportunity to pounce on somebody’s happiness?

A few weeks ago my siblings and I decided it would be lovely to mark my dad’s birthday with a bigger than usual celebration. I mean turning 85 years old is a really big deal.

When the big day finally arrived, I found myself feeling a little apprehensive. Why you might ask? Well, because this event was going to be attended by family members who had not seen me since before, you know, before my cancer diagnosis.

Even though everyone invited to the party was family, I still felt slightly ill at ease and I’m pretty sure some of them did as well.

Why was that?

Well, obviously it had something to do with the fact that I look different now.

I also wondered, do I act differently too?  

Just how changed am I?

Do I make others uncomfortable? Maybe, maybe not.

Of course, that anxiety led to a little bit of guilt. I felt bad for putting a tiny bit of a damper on a birthday party. I felt bad for being that reminder; the reminder of cancer, silly I know, but…

The next way cancer butt its head smack into the middle of the festivities was when I looked at the birthday cake, or more specifically when I looked at the words written in green-colored frosting on the birthday cake, the words that simply said “Happy 85th Birthday Dad.”

Instead of simply admiring the cake, that uninvited guest seemed to rudely bump into me again as if to remind me that living to 85 is not necessarily something I should be counting on. I mean how many people get to live to be 85? How many people with cancer get to live to be 85? Hmm. I wondered what my chances were.

Of course, such thoughts were ridiculous; nobody knows how many birthdays they’ll get.

And I missed my mom at the party. Family celebrations still seem to be missing something without her conversation, without her cooking, without her smile, without her presence. I wished cancer hadn’t taken her away from our celebrations; away from everything.

I also did a lot of observing of people’s faces during the party, especially my dad’s face. His face looks older, of course, more worn down. It now has deep lines and more than a few brown age spots. His hair is almost all gray now. He moves more slowly, but still has a bit of a bounce in his step.

My dad’s a man of few words, well compared to me anyway! He knows more than I’ll ever know about history and a lot of other things too.

He also knows things he shouldn’t have to know; like what it feels like to have a wife with cancer and now a daughter with cancer.

I wondered which was harder for him… I wondered if he sees my mother when he looks at me.

We took lots of pictures at the party. We ate lots of good food, we watched grandpa blow out his candles and we enjoyed that cake with all its gooey sweet frosting. We made memories.

We were just a family celebrating a special day.

And it was a good day; even an uninvited guest couldn’t spoil it.

Happy 85th Dad!

Do you ever feel like you make others uncomfortable for any reason, not just cancer?

How do you keep any uninvited guest away?

 

TC

Monday 10th of October 2011

Nancy ~ enjoyed your October post. Love, love, love the pics. Last October was not as bad as this one. And, my comment was left on AZ's Race for the Cure day, so the pink ribbons abound and my ire was up. This October is "new" because of the rediagnosis of mets this summer. If I make it till next October without a further encroachment I may very well be able to re-embrace the month more fully. I will have something to rejoice about...I will have made it to another bday without burdening my family. All the best, TC

Nancy

Monday 10th of October 2011

TC, Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on October and I'm happy you liked the photos. There really is no time like fall for great outdoor photograhy opportunities. I'm so sorry about your recent mets rediagnosis. I don't blame you one bit for having your "ire up." The October madness seems to forget about the mets community in my opinion. That gets MY ire up. I certainly hope you make it to next October and to many more after that as well. My best to you too.

Lindsay

Monday 10th of October 2011

I probably make people uncomfortable all the time just for being awkwardly quiet :) Thanks for planning a fun day for the family. We all enjoyed it.

Nancy

Monday 10th of October 2011

Lindsay, It was a good day. Thanks for being a part of it.

TC

Sunday 9th of October 2011

You give "it" too much credit calling "it" a "guest." A "guest" is someone you put out the nice hand towels for in the powder room, and actually put the olives in a serving bowl. At the very best, cancer is a flatulating pink elephant that has taken up residence in the middle of your life. "Tt" does not deserve hand towels or serving bowls. But YOU do! And so does everyone you care about.

(BTW...I used to love October...pumpkins, nutmeg, cinnamon, my bday. Now I find myself mentally screaming and gagging at every pink ribbon that flies in my face. I want to wrap my pink elephant in pink duct tape and plop it in front of the HQ for SGK.)

Nancy

Monday 10th of October 2011

TC, I think you might be right. I probably should have called the uninvited guest the unexpected "intruder." Although I totally understand, I also think it's really sad that you used to love October and now you find it to be such a negative month. I just posted on that exact topic. My feelings about October have changed too, but I still call it my favorite month. I'm not giving it up to pink. I just won't. Thanks so much for commenting.

Beth L. Gainer

Sunday 9th of October 2011

Nancy, this beautifully poignant posting brought tears to my eyes. Yes, cancer always seems to be the uninvited guest at times we don't expect it, huh?

I wish I could say I've moved on, but truth is, every day I think about cancer. It's always with me, and it will always be a part of who I now am.

Wonderful posting!

Nancy

Monday 10th of October 2011

Beth, Thanks for your comments. I know what you mean about cancer being a permanent part of who you are now. I feel the same way. I think we do move on after a diagnosis, or try to, but we never entirely move away or separate ourselves from those words "you have cancer." It's not possible, at least not for me.

One week in: we’re liking the conversation « Being Sarah

Sunday 9th of October 2011

[...] Women and The Cancer Culture Chronicles blogs. Nancy, at Nancy’s Point wrote a very moving post about a family party for her father’s 85th birthday. Wondering what her chances of getting [...]

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