When I came home from the first spine hospital, I had a walker. People who hardly knew me called me up with their opinions on why I shouldn't have spine fusion surgery. Its' hard to hide a walker.
When I came to Texas after the surgery and spine rehab, I had a cane. A lot of people found out why I had the cane. It's hard to keep a cane a secret.
In November, I learned I had DCIS. Call it what you like, the hospital doctor who did the biopsy called it cancer.
Once lately, when a friend called to say she'd missed me, I told her I had been having treatment for . . . then I hesitated and said a tumor. Why did I hesitate? The treatment is over. Not much to give advice about, and she doesn't give advice unless asked.
Breast cancer is not contagious. It hasn't been considered shameful for decades. Has it? We talk about bras that hurt and irritate us, and give us a shoulder ache. We talk about breasts. But they have to be well breasts. If they're not, they become a secret.
Recently, someone just waved her arms in the vicinity of a her breasts to show that a mutual friend had apparently gotten breast cancer. I got the message, so why did we need sign language?
I've shared it with someone I know slightly, a man who had mentioned once that he'd had cancer and radiation. I thanked him for talking about it aloud in front of others. Now he's not afraid to ask me how I am when we see each other. It comforts me. We can laugh. And I can talk with a good friend who's had her treatment. We can share about the preventive medicine we now take.
Do we keep it a secret if, like me, we want to go back to work after a surgery and a series of moves? Am I afraid a prospective boss will be afraid to hire me for fear I'll disappear into the hospital?
Someone once gave me a small tote bag with a slogan that's been associated with alcoholism (but also with being a worry wort I don't use it much because I don't want anyone to think I'm an alcoholic.
But I don't mind people knowing about the DCIS. So why do I keep so quiet about it?
Maybe we don't talk about it because we don't want to scare anyone. But most of us are already scared, so I guess it's not polite to remind each other we're scared.
Go ahead and be scared! Be scared that no one seems to be finding the cause!
Be scared that US manufacturers are allowed to go on making dangerous food and drugs that are not allowed in the European Union.
But don't be scared to e-mail the White House or your congressperson to demand carcinogens be kept out of our food and our sunscreen and our lungs.