Monday, March 15, 2010

La Mirada #11-Medusa

-my name, nothing is the same ...
And I won't go back the way I came ... (Lhasa)-
self-portrait, photo.

These days, it's been 5 years since my thyroid cancer. It's my 5th thycancerversary. 5! Friends and docs say I look well. I am well. They say I look like the old Ria. That's a mistake. I'll never be the same again. I have no thyroid and I'm forever on pills. I'll be at risk for lymphedema for the rest of my life. Lines are drawn all over my body and my future is governed by statistics. I don't know how it will be 10 years form now-God willing-but I still walk into a room conscious of all the cancer business, conscious of my changed body. There are times I appear to be very visible to men. I think, amused, 'you should know what's under this top, I wonder how fast you'd run?'-mind you, I might be surprised myself ;) It's weird to meet new people while having cancer in the back of your head. People say you should move on. They have no idea.

Some people try to look me in the eye, curious about what is in there after surviving 2 cancers. Big mistake. They're never unaffected ... Some people should not look me in the eye, period. For their sake. I'm sure there are worlds of strength and hope there, there is a lot of darkness too. Darkness from dealing with apathy, indifference, disinterest, ignorance and impotence. From dealing with people's limitations and my own. A friend, whom I explained about z times that I have a life-long risk for lymphedema, continues to say "you won't get it anymore if you didn't get it after surgery, yoú should see so-and-so's arm" ... as if I don't know what I'm scared of ... Or the one who said "you have such a great figure, won't you give me some of your pills "... An aunt asked my sister if what I had was really that serious, since she saw me on my bike ... Cancer put a magnifying glass on dysfunctions in (both) our families. Some people tell me-well, they try-I got cancer for a reason and now that it's over (?) and I'm doing well and worked to get everything I could out of the experience, I won't get a recurrence, I've learned my lessons you see, lessons they themselves probably knew at birth ...
Some people project their fear of cancer onto me. Like the acquaintance who asked-right after I was dxd with my 2nd cancer-if I now was going to kill myself. Honestly, I didn't know whether to rage in anger or burst out laughing.
People will avoid contact too-pardon the jargon, I'm a Gestaltist, we're trained to notice contact avoidance mechanisms and guard contact quality, cancer only sharpened the sensitivity. Of course it comes as a shock if someone in your circles gets cancer, I understand it's a learning process to deal with that and with me, but if you're going to run away from that-for your own reasons-then, do not look me in the eye. I understand it is hard, I do not understand that you ignore me.
There's so much frustration in my eyes, about the struggle in my doctor contacts-better if I don't get going too much on that. I just don't see the logic in approaching me like they do (textbook)Mrs. X when I so obviously am not her, let alone that she exists. Apparently it's hard for (some) docs to ask how something is for me and then listen to my answer. Although that might spare them time in the long run. Some are afraid I'll cry. Well, I have done, but I stopped too. It only takes a minute, that's even been researched. Isn't it crazy how I know that? Lhasa's words cover the quality of those contacts well. She sings, things just get further and further apart. The head from the hands and the hands from the heart.
There's anger in my eyes too. Writing about this awakens my anger. I'm angry for all of us who are confronted with cancer. Those who live to tell, those who live with cancer and those who passed away.

So, if all of this unsettles you. If you find it confronting. If you find me confronting. Then, for your sake as well as my own, do not look me in the eye.


Bill Evertson said...

Can't imagine the complexity of this..despite friends and relatives with cancer. (from FB) Your posts are a way to look the whole process of sickness, healing and inadequate emotional response. Cancer and other diseases have a potential of creating distance in relationships that is hard to gap. Projecting positive energy is a difficult proposition. The Medusa reference is powerful.

Momo Luna said...

I love this post Ria. Yes it's unsettling and perhaps confronting, but it brings understanding too (for me) and awareness and admiration for you being brave and telling the truth. This is very valuable, so thank you.

If i would met you i dó look you in the eye.

ria said...

:) THANK YOU Monica!