Once you’ve had cancer and you are in remission, there is always the chance that cancer will come back. With my particular cancer, the risk seems to be the highest within the first 5 years. However, when you are as young as I am, the risk is much higher because I am supposed to have decades left to live. The type of breast cancer I had was extremely aggressive and when it comes back, it often does with a vengeance. I am well aware that when I do die, it will likely be from breast cancer.
This post isn’t meant to be negative. I am generally a very positive person, although, I am also a realist. I always strive for the best and I remain aware of the consequences.
This past month, I have had conversations with well-meaning friends and family, but what they have said to me was very toxic and dismissing of my experience. I’ve been told that I am no longer allowed to talk about my cancer because they knew somebody else that had cancer so it wasn’t my turn anymore. Another person told me I was never going to get cancer again so I wasn’t allowed to think about it. A third was surprised that I still to this day (9 months AFTER chemo and almost 6 months AFTER all active treatment) dealt with nasty side effects from my treatment. They thought I was making it all up to get attention. Believe me, I WISH I didn’t feel like a hundred year old broken down garbage truck, but, here we are. Not all days are that bad, but if you take the chemo pill called tamoxifen, then I am sure you know all too well what I am talking about.
The most toxic of all: Being dismissive of a realistic lifespan for me. I would LOVE to see 40, but I also know that may not happen. Believe me, I don’t want to die anytime soon, but I accept the consequences of being a cancer patient. Nothing is for certain and recurrence is a real thing. I may not live to see 34. I could get lucky and live to 100, but that isn’t realistic.
If you have these kinds of behaviors toward people with cancer or other lifespan altering diseases, please check yourself and consider how this impacts them. Toxic positivity is a real thing and quite frankly, I have had enough.
What’s toxic positivity, you ask? Here’s a recent example from someone close to me. They asked me how I was feeling. I was honest and told them I was having a rough side effect day from my chemo pill. Their response? “Well, which would you rather have? Breast cancer or being dead? You should look on the bright side and be grateful to still be alive!” Crap like this needs to stop.