On Seeing (Un)Dead People
We share a sick sense
(of humour). Make light of the
dark. Laugh or we’d cry.
I am down in London for a few days… enjoying life, making the most of my time before chemo starts again next week. I managed to hook up with a couple of lovely ladies I know from my online support group for younger women with secondary breast cancer (YBCN- Younger Breast Cancer Network).
I have met one of these comrades in cancer a few times, another I have only ‘spoken to’ online. We had a wonderful evening, chatting over food and drinks. It’s amazing how at ease and comfortable you feel instantly with these cyber-friends . I think it’s because you already know their ‘voices’ and personalities just from the posts they type. We do have a common ground though, a shared understanding
We have the weirdest conversations if we were to be overheard, talk about the darkest things and laughing together at things others might balk at mentioning. Death is not a taboo subject, sometimes we have to laugh in his face, otherwise me might just cry.
Often we find ourselves celebrating the ‘good news’ that a persistent pain in the chest is ‘just’ someone’s broken rib and not the metastatic spread to the lungs or bones they’d feared. Just a broken bone you say? Only a detached retina? Merely a bout of sciatica, a chest infection or a stress headache? “Hurrah!” we’ll shout, raise a toast, clink glasses. It’s a bit of a back to front world we now inhabit. We don’t often get to celebrate good news so we make do with celebrating a lack of bad! We’ll make light about the cancer-shaped elephant in the room, joke about all the weird and wonderful things that happen to your body during treatment, discuss bodily functions, we talk about being seen by some as the walking dead, compare funeral tunes and guest lists.
But for all the macabre talk about illness and death these women are often some of the most alive people I know… full of life, despite debilitating conditions, appreciating every moment because they don’t know when the rug could be pulled out from under them. They maybe the ones with the life-limiting illness but sometimes it seems that there are so many others out there almost dead to the world around them…who plod on day after day, not noticing the beauty that surrounds them, not appreciating the things or the people they do have, not really believing that yes, life is short and the old sayings about dress rehearsals and all that. They are the real walking dead, not us, they are the ones that need to start living again…