Monday, May 18, 2009

I am just a visitor in your world

I'm a guest at this point.

I peer into the same activities that I once was wholly apart of. I observe things like parties, and other social events. I attend dinners, and performances. I engage in these "small talk" conversations. I even physically partake in activities like shopping, or exercising.

For all intents and purposes I think I do a very good job at involving myself among our social world. I had 26 years of practice at being myself, so I'd hope that I'm decent at it. I don't know anyone else who can play the role of me, better than myself. When I'm feeling the isolation, the seperation, and the lack of motivation, I can quickly launch into "old normal becca" at the moment someone asks me "So how are you?" And I think most people are none the wiser.

Even though people ask that as a way to mask what they really want to ask which is "How are you dealing with cancer and treatment still? are you tired? sick? doing any better? is it almost over? What happens next? Even though they do that...ultimately, most, don't want to hear all the answers to it. If they did...I would think, they wouldn't mask it with "how are you?" They'd just cut to the chase and ask directly. "How are you?" is just a space-filler.

I've disassociated myself with you. You as in, the rest of our normal world. I don't belong there anymore, as I am not normal. I am in another class now. And not the "cool kids" or the "theater dorks" or the "jocks" class. I am now a member of a society of people, I believe, who cannot help but acknowledge that what we once were is no longer, and what we now are is a completely bizarro twilight-zone reality that most can ever even fathom.

I drive down the street and see a young 20-something mother pushing her stroller down the street and I think "nope. never will be me.".
I stand in line at the bank and watch a couple in front of me who discuss their weekend plans of going camping in michigan. Seemingly no worries other than the fact that they've been waiting at the bank for over 5 minutes to take care of their finances for the week.
I watch an old 70-something woman hobbling out from Panera to her chevy taking her time to watch the seagulls in the parking lot as she puts her cane in the passenger seat.

I see all of this, and am filled with a longing for the irrelevance, enviable monotony , and unreachable normalness. My monotony and normalness is living my days thinking almost nonstop about my guts, my blood, my side effects, my prescriptions, my schedule of emptying my bowels, my money and lack thereof. I spend my days off doing doctor appointments, infusions, procedures, transfusions, waiting room, blood tests, scans, and scopes. I spend my evenings pretending I've found that new perspective on life that makes me enjoy all the little things that much more, when mostly I'm gluing on that smile and going through the motions of who I knew myself to be before the me I am became the permanent patient.

Chase Park Daycamp, circa 1987
Gay Pride Parade, Circa 1996
Senior Prom, Circa 1998

New Orleans Circa 1999
the "Friendsgiving" holiday, Circa 2000


  1. We are all just visitors here - not knowing how the now will be different from the past, and fearing that the future will only be as good as the now. It IS different, once we begin the journey through cancer-world, but it is still the only living we get. That is why we fight so hard for each day, and each memory.

    Sure, I have wallowed in a pool of pity at times - walking around the park with tears streaming down my face wondering if there will be enough future for me. And I have felt the difference in many ways over the years - not only due to cancer, though. We all all prisoners of our bodies and our experiences. And though cancer-world is hard, there are other worlds that are as hard and harder. Perspective.

    I am thinking of you, and hope that today is just a little easier for you. And I am sorry that your life, your living, seems so hard and so different right now. We are all just visiting this planet, sharing each other's worlds.

  2. You know why I ask " How are you"? A. B/c I honestly care how you are. and B. B/c I'm worried that everyone else always bugs you with all the nitty gritty questions. And I don't want to bother you, or upset you, or make you say the say thing 100 times, but now I won't ask you how you are, I'll ask you what I really want to know. Which, when you get down to the bottom of it is really is "How is Becca handling life today? this moment? How is your outlook? ANd your spirit?"

    Oh and I'm scratching my head at this one... Were you a youngin' at senior prom? I know I suck at math, but, if you are 4 years younger then me and I was a senior in '97. . . then you should not have not been a senior on '98. . .right? Yeah just figuring that much out gave me a headache. I said I'm not numbers person.

  3. Oh Ed, dont worry bout me. It wasnt wallowing really. I was just making observations. I mean, I can wallow with the best of 'em. But generally those are just very rational thoughts that go through my head on a daily basis. When I'm thinking them i'm not screaming and raging "oh why me!" I'm merely...thinking them. Its as cut n dry as if I was thinking what my errands for the day are.

    Steph..girl, i dont know where you got that I was 4 years younger than you, I'll be 29 in 2 weeks. (born in 1980.)
    Maybe you're assuming that b/c I said I have 26 years practice in being me? But what I was meaning was I was 26 when I got diagnosed with Cancer, and THAT is when I sorta stopped being the "me" that I was and became this sorta unknowable thing, merely acting as what I knew previously as "me" that makes sense.

    surry for the confusion bebe.

  4. Oh! I just had an "ah-ha" moment.

    So incase I forget happy early birthday. Ya know our birthdays our only approx 1 yr and 2 wks off.

    You know what I thought when I looked at your pics? I wish I knew you when we were younger, I bet we were a lot alike. (Beside the bullshit that was secretly growing inside us. Maybe your right on some creepy guttural twin level . ..)

  5. I think we all feel like we're outside of "normal" society at times - some more than others, and for a variety of reasons. But I think I'm crying from reading this post because you DO seem so comfortable with who you are, and I'm still not (13 years older than you), and in so many ways it's not fair that you should have to be saying this to anyone, or even feeling it. And it's completely rational, I totally agree with you. You're just telling it like it is for you, and it's awesome.

    It's just not fair. It sucks. This isn't pity or even fake understanding (how could I understand, really?) but just a statement. You're great to put it all out there Becca. Keep dropping the wisdom. And thanks.

  6. Becca, Hi. I am Stephanie's Aunt.(Stolen Colon) A year ago I only knew how to check my e mail and now I am a daily reader of Steph's, yours and a few other blogs.
    Many times I have wanted to leave you a comment but I have thought, "She wouldn't want to hear anything you have to say. Really, who am I". But today I decided to go ahead and comment...
    I am sorry Becca for all you have to deal with on a daily basis. And I thank you for sharing your most intimate thoughts and feelings. You rip at my heart strings every time I read your blog! And there is nothing I can do for you.

    Your videos are neat in the since that you come to life right off the track but here is a funny, I think.. When I checked the web sight for bathroom ratings in my town. (Did I mention I am a little bit of a germ a fobe! Great website!) The first bathroom that came up with a BAD rating was the bathrooms in the Cinemas that my son works at. It was a good laugh!

    Thank you for being frank in this blog so I can continue to better myself. I now know a better way to ask the question "How are you?".

    I can't begin to know how you, Stepanie and others like you battling Cancer and other illnesses feel but I have a small understanding from reading all your blogs. Thank you!
    Thank you Becca for being so open and thank you for being there for Stephanie too.
    Sincerely, Deb

  7. Great blog! I have added you to my blogroll - Cancer Blog Links at
    Take care, Dennis

  8. OH my goodness Poptart, and Aunt Deb (and fam), both your comments sort've made my day. It feels good to share parts of you, and know that someone out there "gets" you. Thank you so much. I hope something I say can give either of you more insight than you had the day before whether its with regards to yourself or loved ones.
    Steph...we're colon-twins. just face it. And would you also be a gemini? and yes, judging from your postings, i bet we are pretty damned similar. Colons or not.

  9. I hope you realize that this is precisley the reason that some people don't ask "how are you". Just because it is such a groundhog day type of question. It doesn't mean that they don't care or aren't interested, but because that might be the only way, for them, of trying to not make you feel like you are a patient/fighter/survivor/etc... and trying to help you stay "normal" and not feel like a visitor. You are not a visitor or a guest, you are a resident. This is your home and you belong here, like every one of us.

    If variety is the spice of life, then be some wasabi baby, and spice things up!!!

  10. I know this is an old post- actually the date May 20-2009 was the day before I had my right hemicolectomy due to stage 4 colon/appendix cancer. I am 33 and can totally identify with you. I am currently on FOLFOX with avastin Chemo, have had 2 surgeries with more to come. I feel like shit, but don't want to bog others down with the cancer speak.
    I, too, don't feel like I am the same person. I slap on the smile. Everything you said was right on for me.

    You're not alone.