I've realized over the last couple of weeks that my cancer tells are becoming fewer and fewer. What ones are still left I've gotten good at covering -- my skill with the eyebrow pencil has become expert level, and my baggy (yet elegant?) shirts are doing their most to hide the lopsidedness of my chest, and most of them are high necked enough to cover my still-obvious radiation burns.
So my visage doesn't scream cancer. And as I have begun to rejoin the living at things like parties and business meetings, I sometimes get seized with an oddly terrifying thought -- do they know?
The fact of my cancer, when not being broadcast automatically, becomes a secret, and so a secret, weirdly, also a shame.
I have an kind of pathological desire to tell the truth. Not in every situation (thank god) but mostly in those where I feel lacking in some way, or when I feel I've done something wrong. I feel this need now, and have to stop myself from blurting out that "I did chemo, and that's why I forgot what state Las Vegas is in."
Post cancer, I still feel less than. Intellectually, emotionally, physically. And it's embarrassing. The sheer embarrassment of cancer is something that doesn't get talked about much, probably because for most people this pales in comparison to the death thing. (You know, death. NBD.) But there is something wildly humiliating about it all. And somehow when your humiliation is secret, it's worse. Maybe because you're afraid of getting found out? I'm not sure. But it's yet another way in which cancer can be SO MUCH like puberty. Except that with cancer, you might actually die, not just wish you could.