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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Seeming Good

Over the last few weeks, I've heard some variation of "You seem great!" about 800 times. It's weird. (Cognitive dissonance? Maybe...I can't quite remember what that actually is.)

What I've found is that I'm really good at seeming okay when I am profoundly un-okay.

Here are some tips for tricking passers-by into thinking that "you're doing great!":

- don't talk about the crushing uncertainty that dominates your thoughts
- avoid discussing the grosser details of your body, such as scars, plastic parts, or tubes that bridge the gap between internal and external
- don't mention how, on the eve of your 29th birthday, you worry if you'll make it to your 30th
- take your Vicodin in secret
- gloss over the infinite and minute details of your diagnosis, treatments, complications, side effects, etc

And more! For only $9.95, these secret tips can all be yours.

I guess it's mostly my fault. Because I spare people these details, most think that I'm doing just fine, and that this experience is little more than an inconvenience. I feel angry and frustrated that they can't read between the lines.


The truth is, cancer is fucking terrifying, painful, shitty...and there is no obvious end point. (Well, except the really obvious one, I guess.) What I mean is there's no moment when all this suddenly becomes okay. I know from Matt's illness that this doesn't go away. It becomes part of your life, your consciousness. So just know that although I actually don't talk about cancer all that much, there is never a moment when I'm not thinking about it.

3 comments:

  1. Thank you for articulating this so perfectly

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  2. Hi, Emily. Been reading about every other of your posts (because I'm at work and, well, you're not supposed to do that sort of thing here) and felt compelled to contact you. I do not have cancer, I have not been diagnosed with cancer, but I totally relate to this feeling of yours.

    My husband died by suicide in January of 2007 and I've endured comments like this since about the third day after he died.

    I just wanted you to know you're not alone, even though I have no fucking idea what it's like to have cancer. I'm sorry.

    ReplyDelete
  3. YES. I've always felt when telling people i've had "cancer" that the word is so SO inadequate. How can one word encompass and express so many years of your life?
    Thank you, again for expressing this.

    ReplyDelete