Ask any survivor and they will tell you that it is hard to hear of the passing of other women who have struggled with any form of cancer. If you know the person, or had any life interaction with them it is particularly hard.
Now maybe it is just because I am on Tamoxifen and some days emotions are just magnified, but I find myself very upset this morning, and yes, I will write about it. I can’t decide right at this moment if I am more upset than offended, which (again) in part is why I am writing about it.
The other day I wrote about the cycle of life and two losses I had experienced personally. I had written in both cases that these losses were women I found brave in their struggle and inspirational in their own right. They were women who weren’t my closest friends, but in both instances had just been part of the fabric of my everyday life for many years.
When you are a survivor of cancer, that fabric of everyday life is a big deal. It often represents normalcy in your world when things like surgery, treatment, post treatment, and whatnot turns it upside down. When you face a cancer diagnosis, you face your own mortality for the first time no matter how old you are. Mortality is something we all dance with, even every time a friend, acquaintance, or loved one passes. But when you receive a diagnosis of cancer it takes on a whole new sharpness. You feel it in Technicolor.
As those who have read my blog since the beginning know, I have been honest and open about my disease, my surgery, my treatment, my life post everything and while taking Tamoxifen. I chose to be open, which is a shock to many still. I chose to be open so I could remain positive. Also part of what helped me remain positive were some women who inspired me along the way.
Today my positivity is shaken to the core. I received a message this morning from a mutual friend regarding one of the women I had written about. Even though there is an obituary out there on the Internet for this person and a public viewing and memorial service, and even though when you die like it or not you become part of a public record , and even though this breast cancer blog is widely read and all-around respected, these people whom I have never met and am trying desperately to respect have told my friend that they want me to edit the post I wrote. In essence to make one of these women who touched my life disappear.
I cannot begin to express how utterly offended and hurt I feel. I am a writer, it is how I express myself, and I feel like I am being told how to grieve. And I am also upset that they sent their message through a friend. How I feel about this might very well affect another relationship I care about.
And how I feel about this is that I can’t and shouldn’t have to change what I wrote. There was nothing immoral, illegal, or untoward about what I wrote. It was a tribute to women I knew who were inspirational on some level to me. I don’t just write about random people. These people touched my life, and I am now struggling with the fact that while I understand these other people are grieving, I also understand how all of this makes me feel.
I am sorry to say, that I think for the time being I have to go with how I feel. I am not some awful person. I am a woman who survived breast cancer. And I am filing all of this under unintentional ignorance.