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The Reminder

Do you ever feel like you’re the reminder, the reminder of cancer? Do you sometimes wonder if your family and friends see you and then immediately think cancer thoughts? Sometimes I feel this way. One of those people I do not like reminding at all about cancer is my dad. He needs no reminders; he remembers far too much. But whenever I visit him, there I am, the reminder daughter. I don’t like being the reminder, the reminder of cancer. I wonder if he thinks about my mom and cancer whenever he sees me now.

How could he not?

But then again, maybe he doesn’t.

I know it’s true that if we could get inside other people’s minds, we would undoubtedly discover they do not have the thoughts we think they have about us at all, not even close. In fact, other than family and close friends, most people likely don’t give us a thought at all, at least not very often.

Still, I wonder.

Since this past weekend was Father’s Day, dear hubby and I made a trip to visit my dad and dear hubby’s mom as well. And once again this question crossed my mind.

Am I the reminder?

Why don’t I just ask him?

As I’ve written about before, my dad is a man of few words and does not like to speak about such matters and I respect that. We rarely discuss cancer. We don’t even talk that often or that much about my mother. It’s too hard for him. Of course, sometimes I “force” him to talk about her and clearly it makes him uncomfortable, but at the same time I know he likes it too. At least I hope he does.

Asking him if I remind him of her, of cancer and of that time feels too hard and potentially painful. Or perhaps I don’t want to know the answer. And so I don’t ask.

But regardless, I have wondered many times what it’s like to have a wife diagnosed with cancer and then shortly thereafter a daughter too.

And I can’t help myself; I do wonder.

Am I the “reminder”?

Do you sometimes wonder if you’re the “reminder”?

If you’re metastatic, this is even more of an “issue”, so how do you deal with it, or do you?

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The Reminder

My dad’s most recent visit to my house.

 

The Reminder

 My most recent visit to my dad’s house.

 

8 thoughts to “The Reminder”

  1. Nancy, this is an interesting idea and I have wondered about this too. Am I a reminder of cancer? I think for some people I am and part of that is because I am no longer who I used to be before my diagnosis. I also like to keep my hair short. All my life I’ve always had long hair. I do a lot of cancer talk with everyone, it’s part of my life now. I don’t suppress my thoughts.

    I think it would be hard not to be reminded of cancer when so many of us have been touched by it in some way or another. Even when we don’t want to think of it, cancer just seems to be all over the place and It isn’t going away, sadly.

    I understand why your dad would want to avoid the subject about cancer. I am sorry you and your mom had to go through this. It is probably still very difficult for your dad to process what has happened with his family. No one deserves to go through this.

    I am happy you two have each other.

    1. Rebecca, I think you make a good point that for some people we are the reminder and for some we are not. I suppose your short hair is now a very visual reminder to some people you know/knew since you always had long hair. Over time, the impact of that should diminish. I’m glad to hear you don’t suppress your thoughts and do a lot of cancer talk when you feel like it. Thank you for reading and for the kind words.

  2. My dad died if cancer age 56… When i was diagnosed with cancer my mum fell apart… She could not cope.. Her sister came from New Zealand to stay with her and she hardly came to see me and seemed incabable of helping.. Now with my on going issues even though I have no cancer at this stage my mum hates hospitals.. Gets very anxious and cannot deal with my health issues… So I know I am a reminder and as an only child it us more than she can cope with… At times she has thought I am Not telling her the truth and the cancer has come back… It makes me feel guilty that my health impacts on her this way.. But what else can I do??? It is what it is …

    1. Helen, I remember that about your dad. I’m sorry. And I’m sorry your mom has had such a rough time dealing with your health issues. Of course, this is normal, but still, I wish she felt up to offering you the support you need when you need it. As you said, it is what is. Thank you for sharing that. I think of you often, Helen. Hope things are going okay.

  3. Hi Nancy,

    Excellent topic! I wonder how many “reminder” families there are. Probably plenty. I guess the best thing would be to have a talk with your dad, although I totally understand you want to respect his not wanting to talk on such matters. It’s a very painful topic, for sure. By the way, I love the pictures of both of you. Wonderful.

    For me, I’m the “denial daughter.” My parents either don’t remember or choose to pretend I never had cancer. I love them very much, but the few times I bring up cancer, there’s silence on the other end of the phone. I’d lie if I said it didn’t hurt. But then again, I know my parents find my cancer history painful and they do love me.

    Great post!

    1. Beth, It must be so hard as a parent to know your child has cancer, no matter what age your child is. Your parents are sort of like my dad then as he doesn’t talk about cancer either. I suppose your parents might be in some kind of denial as a way to keep the fear at bay. Maybe my dad is in a bit of denial too. Who knows? Family relationships are complex. The main thing is your parents love you and my dad loves me, though of course he doesn’t ever tell me that. Thank you for reading and sharing.

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