This week I went out with a few former co-workers, many of whom I hadn't seen in years. They all knew about my recent breast cancer diagnosis and treatment; this gathering was, in part, to celebrate "catching it early" — though no one seems to get that early diagnosis in no way means "cured." It can always come back. Cancer is funny that way.
Anyway, it was fun to catch up and feel the love in their hugs — like an extra layer of emotion wrapping itself around me, a kindness deeper than I have ever felt from this group of women. No pity party, this; more a cross between empathy and the cold, harsh reality that no one wants to be me.
My pre-cancerous life never followed a typical, predictable path. I married late (took me a while to find my Mr. Wonderful) and never had kids (the latter didn't help my BC risk). I had the time, energy and wherewithal to pursue my passions. It was a fun, full, crazy life. I took care of myself, and got routine mammograms. Then I got breast cancer. Now no one wants to be me.
Cancer will do that to a girl.
So instead of a first-class ticket to Paris, I nabbed first-class status in the funkiest of fraternities. And once you get drafted into the Cancer Club ('cause no one volunteers for this army), there's no way out. I couldn't go AWOL even if I wanted to — and I want to every single day. The best I can hope for? An honorable discharge.