Recently I was reading a post by one of my favorite bloggers, the Cancer Curmudgeon, and I had one of those light-bulb moments. Let me just stress, this was NOT an epiphany. No, I have not had one of those, nor do I expect to. It was more a realization that I need to remember to follow a certain piece of my own advice.
Quite often I’m suggesting, do cancer your way. Do survivorship your way too. You know, that sort of thing.
I think I finally realized, I get to do cancer survivorship my way too.
(As I mentioned before, I can sometimes be a slow learner).
A while back I had an exchange with an individual on Facebook (a family member no less) about one of my biggest cancer pet peeves, that just stay positive mantra. This particular person has experienced cancer firsthand, not once but twice. This person left a comment on one of my posts in which I had expressed my resistance to the over-used, just stay positive messaging, suggesting that it’s not all the helpful for some of us. This person didn’t understand where I was coming from (and likely never will), told me so and then proceeded to unlike my page – all totally fine. Still, my feelings were hurt.
Shortly after that, I read the above mentioned post by my friend the Cancer Curmudgeon and wallah – light bulb moment!
Here’s the part that really resonated:
Finding and sharing truths about the shittiness of cancer has been satisfying. Confronting facts comforts me. Yet so many people perceive it as “being negative”. My message to them is this: “Stop it right now. You may think you are spreading your sunshine, but you are really raining on my grumpy parade. I was having a good time and you wagging your finger at me and my attitude is what is REALLY getting me down.”
Upon reading that, I realized some of us are not in the just stay positive camp and never will be perhaps because our brains are wired differently. We don’t WANT to be in that camp. We choose to opt out of it. We will always see some things (like cancer for instance) from a differently skewed angle which is often a less-accepted-by-society sort of angle. Either camp is appropriate and we should all be allowed to pick and choose which one we feel most comfortable residing in and/or moving in and out of. After all, cancer or no cancer, what works for one, doesn’t necessarily work for another.
The thing I can never quite grasp is why so many in the just stay positive camp find people like me to be negative. I do not see myself as a negative person. At all. I will admit that too much positivity drives me a little nuts. We’ve all interacted with the over-the-top perky type, right? And from a patient’s perspective, well this patient anyway, staff perkiness in a hospital is way over-rated…But again, this does not mean I am a negative person. As I have said many time before, I am a realist.
Like the cancer curmudgeon, I often share about the shitty side of cancer and frankly, have great difficulty seeing, much less sharing, anything that is not shitty about cancer. And like the cancer curmudgeon, this helps make me feel better. Sharing the shitty stuff IS my “positive”, well part of it anyway.
Why is this such a hard concept for some to understand and/or accept?
I try to be quite clear when I write stuff here on the blog, or anywhere, that my opinions are just that, mine. I welcome all viewpoints. I really do. I love good discussions about differing points of view, no matter what the topic might be. I am not necessarily trying to change how others think or feel; I am merely expressing myself about my personal cancer shitstorm and its aftermath. I always hope that by doing so, I am encouraging others to more freely share about theirs too.
If I can accept that the just stay positive mantra works for some, okay many, why does it so often feel as if my way of doing things isn’t quite up to par?
Why does the accepted (for the most part) societal narrative still seem to be that smiling your way through cancer (and survivorship) is the best way to handle things?
Cancer or no cancer, we are all individuals. (Thank goodness).
Like the Cancer Curmudgeon said, don’t rain on my parade.
Amen to that. And there’s that other expression…
I won’t rain on your parade if you don’t rain on mine.
Give yourself permission to be real, to be you, to “do” any part of cancer your way.
I’ll try to remember to do the same.
Which “camp” do you feel most comfortable in?
Do you ever feel your way of coping with cancer (and survivorship) isn’t accepted by others?