True to Triv form, I’ve tried not to take this cancer caper too srsly.
Obviously, this becomes easier the further away one moves from that initial neutron bomb of the diagnosis. And easier still with news such as “it’s early”, “it’s small”, “it’s not aggressive”, and “you have two trauma insurance policies”.
But here’s the thing: I’m allowed to make jokes about it. You’re not.
(Apparently cancer not only makes you rich and thin, but also a bit of a tetchy b*tch.)
Case in point…a few weeks ago I met B for a drink. I said, “I really feel like a raspberry cocktail but there’s not one on the menu. I think I’ll tell the bartender I have cancer and maybe he’ll make me one!” We laughed like drains! How funny was the chick with cancer?! How deeply well-adjusted am I that I can get my tumour and pink drinks into the same gag?!?
When it came time to pay the bill, we marvelled at what an ouchy sum all those pink drinks added up to, and B snorted and said, “Ask for a discount — you’ve got cancer!”
I found this alarmingly unfunny, and shot a stink-eye at her back.
Recently Damer took me to a major mansports grand final (yes, you read that right) as her and her rock star hubby’s guest. I had to pretend to be her “sister from another mister” to placate the grouchy tour manager, who’d been expecting her to bring her 12-year-old son. As Grouchy tried to usher us out of the very well equipped corporate box at the end of the night, he hollered, “Come on — on the bus! Damer! Damer’s fake sister!” As it was the end of the night, I decided to fess up to the fact that, indeed, the almost six-feet-tall, blonde goddess-like Kiwi Damer and I were unrelated by blood.
“Yeah, well I guessed that!” he said. “Suppose you’re also gonna try and tell me you’re not dying of cancer!”
“Um, actually, I’m not dying, but I do have cancer,” I said, suddenly finding the whole convo distinctly unamusing.
“Yeah, right! Ha!”
As we were driven home in the bongo van through the dying nighttime embers of Parramatta Road, all I could think about was tumours. Lesions and nasty cells. And chemo, and people looking at a hairless me with pity in their eyes.
I got over it. I’ve come to realise that, as Brunnie said, “people will take their lead from you.” So the best way to be is upbeat, which is how I feel 99 per cent of the time.
And the most recent good news is that me and my glorious hairs will stay together: no chemo coming my way.
But what that also means is no short-cut to skinny. And that, my friends, is no laughing matter.*