get a life


i swore i was going to be more positive here – well, maybe you didn’t realize but it’s what i told myself.  but the other night fell into the category of ‘no good deed goes unpunished’.  and by punished, i mean my psyche and spirit plummeting into an intangible anger that sent me grumbling through a full 24 hours.  i’m not a nice person when i’m grumbling.   [understatement]

a friend of mine – we were disconnected for a bunch of years and this past year we picked up again and found our friendship still there – having survived now past her (i think) 1+ year of being diagnosed with breast cancer, decided to boldly walk the susan g. komen 3 day 60 mile walk for the cure.  by herself with no buddy.  she’s a real indomitable woman – and has faced her diagnosis and moving on with her life … she’s back at work full time and taking on the world with style and fashion and the most amazing spirit and humor – had dealt with her diagnosis and treatment in a very private fashion.  telling very few people.  now, she was fully out of the ‘i had cancer’ closet … proudly announcing the walk on facebook and raising funds.  

i thought about it.  there are two b.c. groups i really respect:  susan g. komen and share.   both do great work.  here i am 4+ years past and i thought:  i wonder if i can do this?  maybe i should do this.  in my wildest dreams i don’t think i can walk 60 miles in 3 days but heard that some people get through 3/4 of it and then a ride to the ‘camp’.  oh yeah, and there are tents.  when i mentioned the whole thing to my husband, he fell into cataclysmic bouts of laughter and managed to sputter:  ‘tents?  you in a tent???”  ok, leave that rather humorous visual aside.  maybe this was the moment to commit to pushing myself to some other level and to join this group effort.  a big 3 day 60 mile fuck you to cancer and an acknowledgement that i was part of the cure and not just a victim.  but it also comes down to the fact that i am not a joiner nor a group person.  hell, i live in nyc for a reason.  i don’t fit in.  no one here fits in.  so we all fit in.  and, perhaps not last but not least, i hate pink.  i hate seas of pink.  i recognize that chic black is not the color of choice for a breast cancer charity organization but it’s a mutant pepto bismal ocean to my senses. 

i put a toe in.  sent an email.  got a call from a ‘recruiter’ in california and sat down that evening to talk.  it started out innocuously enough.  i was given all the details…it’s not enough to walk, it’s also about raising the funds.  (ok).  how it all works.  the walk, the cities available (i would choose san francisco as a chance to visit one of my dearest friends), the tents, the sunscreen, the knowing people/teams and knowing no one.  and then.  i think she was so happy to talk to me – i was a blank slate and, frankly, cracking a few pretty funny jokes, that suddenly it all poured out.  her story and her experiences in the walks she participated in.  fine.  everyone has their story.  and i presume that recruiters are specialists in stories of putting forth effort.  but then i heard it once, then twice and by the time i said something there were no less than five statements about ‘this woman whose mother had DIED at 52.”  “her sister just DIED at 47.”  “my friend who walked because his wife just DIED 3 months before last years’ walk.’ 

i get it.  but it took me 4+ years to even get to this point and within 45 minutes i was falling into an emotional rabbit hole of the potentials of death and dying and i wanted to get back on the nyc subway and ride in happy anonymity.  (have i mentioned that talking about death and dying has been an issue for me since i was a young girl? feh.)

right after i was diagnosed i was having trouble with someone i felt was a friend but seemed to need all the air in the room even tho i was the one about to enter treatment.  a friend of my husband’s nailed it when he said:  oh yeah, there’s always someone who wants a starring role in your illness.’ 

i have to do a lot of thinking about this.  but that recruiter and i are not going out for a beer afterward.  i have my boundaries.


5 Responses to get a life

  1. kathy says:

    i’ve been there–where you are–in trying to commit to making a difference in helping those living with diabetes. the fact that it’s all about the money sometimes makes my blood boil, too, because you have to-want to-need to learn to LIVE your life DESPITE having had bc, diabetes, or some other major life-impacting issue! Then, like you say, people share pieces of their motivational stories that dig in and hurt and make it harder for us to keep a grip on our worries and living in the here and now. For me, it helps to TRY to not listen to any of those kind of details shared by caring strangers or friends. Just a: “Oh, I’m sorry, but I don’t really want to hear about that right now.” And then move on or away–physically give yourself distance–and go right back to what you were doing; whatever it is you were involved in and/or enjoying. That seems to help (me) a little bit!

    And BTW, you CAN do anything you put your mind to, so if you want to walk (and end up sleeping in a tent and helping us laugh at the image), SO WHAT? JUST DO IT!

  2. Jodi says:

    You can do anything. I’ve seen you and I know.

    The recruiter was insensitive and clumsy – and you were not wrong to be mad – but her blathering cannot crush you.

    Just do whatever you want, because you can.

  3. If you decide you really want to do that walk, let me know and we’ll do it together. The tent too, even! 🙂

  4. Janet says:

    well i know you can do it! But I’d also be happy to write a check to your favorite BC charity and then grab Meg and go celebrate the 4+ year of being cancer free and I promise it won’t include a tent…

  5. kate says:

    Hi, as a new yorker and artist i like your honesty and wanted to give you a shout-out. I’m a 49 y/o 3 year survivor and going to my first survivor support group at cancercare this eve.. first time looking thru the share site too. i don’t really know other survivors in NY and it helps to see your blog.keep singing!

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