Aside from a few particular moments of sharp fear (like when they thought I had cancer on my spine), I never seriously though about it all that way. I mean, you know the possibilities of what you’re dealing with. You’re scared poopless. Obviously you know the implications. But it’s not the same as thinking you are going to die. I did not believe the latter – at all. You just go through your days doing what you have to do so that it doesn’t “get (any further) out of hand”, so to speak. So imagine what a conversation such as this was like…
Friend: So what’s the latest news?
Me: Well, Dr. Awesome said that there are no signs of cancer anywhere and that he feels strongly that I “don’t need to worry about the future.” He feels optimistic that the odds are against a recurrence for me. Of course…that’s no guarantee, but it sure is nice to hear.
Friend: [lets out a deep breath] That’s great! Oh, I’m so glad. Because, you know, this whole time I was thinking thinking you were a goner.
Uh….wow. What do you say to that?! I’m not offended. I’m…I’m…I’m… just struck. Speechless. by this. Because, well, excuse me but who said anything about dying?! I know I didn’t! As far as I’m concerned, that was not in the deck of cards I was playing with. It’s weird to realize that others might have been thinking differently the whole time. Planning for a different outcome than you. One that was so bad they couldn’t admit to it. Creepy.
A fellow friend in treatment and I had a long conversation about this (laughing, as only a fellow friend in treatment could do) and she had similar experiences. After hearing the doctor say that her scans came back clear, someone close to her exhibited disbelief, saying, “You’re going to be fine? Really? Well…I never thought of that. I thought cancer was cancer. You know…”.
I guess it’s one of those things where you have to remind yourself of their intentions. They’re not trying to wish you unwell, be insensitive or be dramatic. They just don’t know. As much as I wanted my loved ones to really understand what I was going through, I suppose in the end, hopefully, they never really will.