Laugh With Me

Yesterday I saw someone I haven't seen since my diagnosis (and long hair). I was standing nearby while she chatted with someone else.  It was clear she didn't recognize me until I spoke to her.  She seemed glad to see me and asked how I was.  I explained, in the shortest version I can, that I'm "stable" and "no evidence of active disease" and will continue to be on treatment for the rest of my life.  When she asked, "How are you doing?" my answer was "Fine; I'm still alive!"  The look on her face....  I really need to remember that not everyone is comfortable with the jokes ... but it's not just that; sometimes I'm not joking but it comes out that way unintentionally.

The other day I was checking out at the grocery store, and a prompt came up on the credit card scanner asking if I wanted to donate to cancer research.  I said, out loud, "No, I've already donated enough to cancer research."  Hahahaha!  I'm the only one who got it.

I think the thing is this -- the longer you live with something, the more comfortable you are with talking about it.  I've always been comfortable talking about my cancer, but now that it's been over a year, I sometimes say things that sometimes I think are funny, but other people clearly don't.  I find myself apologizing.  I'm not trying to make you feel uncomfortable; I'm trying to make the conversation lighter, and sometimes failing miserably.  That whole "pause before you speak" thing comes to mind.  I really need to start doing that.  ;) 

This brings to mind two stories.  My sister Rosemary and I used to work at the same law firm.  On the way to work one day, a concrete truck rear ended my car.  Totaled the car.  I was out of work for three weeks.  Every day, multiple  people asked Rosemary how I was doing.  The answer was always some version of "she's fine" or "she's doing okay" with a smile.  After the gazillionth time, though, the answer started to be "she's fine" in an annoyed tone.  Of course, people thought that was horrible.  I understood.  A few years before that, Rosemary had broken her collarbone and was out of work for a number of weeks.  Same thing.  On a regular basis, people asked me how she was doing.  When you're asked the same thing over and over again, even by different people ... well, you get the picture.

I'm not sure how those two stories relate to me putting my foot in my mouth sometimes when I talk about my cancer, but there you have it. 

My point, I think -- you have to laugh about it, or you're going to cry about it.  Laugh with me.






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