Maybe I should hold back on my thinking since I'm planning to write a column about this. Chris, am I undermining my writing in the City Paper?
I'm writing at least a bit of it.
Everybody here knows that I had brain surgery in August, radiation through the fall, and now I'm on chemotherapy drugs. It's tough stuff, although the chemo isn't that dramatic, so I'm back to work full time.
Back to work! I love it. Hello, students: being with you is such fun, and so satisfying.
It's still hard, though. And groups of incredibly supportive friends, colleagues, and folks I haven't even met say some version of this:
"You are so brave!" "You're amazing!" "You're a warrior!"
These are such loving things to say. And they are a bit distressing. I'm currently on a pretty serious chemotherapy. People know that tumor cells are in my body, so they tell me that my body is fighting it.
This is not for me.
As I sat at a barbecue restaurant with Brian, heading home from my recent (successful) trip to Duke Cancer Center, I pondered this. Other people do find this approach--the attack on the tumor--to be satisfying at multiple levels, so I'm not saying that these loving statements are in any way troubling or inappropriate. They just aren't for me. They aren't what I want, what I need.
Ultimately, as I sat there with a barbecue sandwich, I felt myself somehow calm down and let the cells go. They aren't all going to go away--all the oncologists have said this--so I want them to lie down, drifting. Some are just shrunk and out of energy. They don't require me to be a warrior--they just need to be allowed to disappear as I do the things that are part of my medical process.
I don't want my body to be a space of domination, a space where I imagine myself as fierce. Instead, I want to be soothing to myself. I want to breathe.