I can honestly say that after hearing my diagnosis and the Halloween theme song faded out of the picture, the shell shock had already worn off and it was time to tell the masses. So how exactly does one tell their loved ones – family and friends – that they have cancer. My personal approach, just rip off the god damn band-aid. No matter how you phrase it the response is always the same…THE LONG AWKWARD PAUSE. It seemed like I would say the words and there would be radio silence on the other end of the phones for what felt like an eternity or if done in person a blank stare that lasts just long enough for it to be really uncomfortable for all parties involved. I have to admit that I much prefer the Long Awkward Pause to what follows as an encore – tears. I have never been a fan of ‘ugly crying’ myself, so seeing so many people tear up every time they saw me over the next few weeks pretty much made me want to make a break for it or avoid some people all together. I had my one evening of ‘ugly crying’ with some Ben and Jerry’s on the couch and hoped to leave it at that. Crying was not going to change my current situation, if anything it was certainly going to make it worse. So I thus banned my parents and best friend from crying as well. With the ban in place, life could go on until the next person who was unaware of the crying ban heard the news for the first time and went through the usual song and dance. Enter Long Awkward Pause and tears.
Once the masses become aware of the situation it all becomes so much more real and suddenly cancer is actually a part of your life. Now that everyone knows you have cancer the next step is explaining what that looks like. Not so easy, even for a veteran teacher of ten years such as myself. I didn’t have the knowledge to explain it. All I knew was that I had lymphoma. Google it and you get 25, 100, 000 results. Clearly just some light reading to get you started. And a word to the wise, never google what you don’t understand. It led my mom to an emotional breakdown thinking that every single person ever diagnosed with Lymphoma never made it past the five year mark. So sometimes having information at your finger tips is not so helpful and thus I had to ban google as well. Just in time too, because my BFF actually googled what to do when your best friend has cancer. The advice given did however yield some good laughs.