Cancer has made me shallow. I know that this isn’t necessarily a unique feeling, but I felt this way before I ever knew this book, which I’ve never read, existed.
I didn’t have cable for about four years, and had come to think, and still do to some degree that watching television was a waste of one’s time for the most part. It was an opiate for the masses, so to speak. I had better things to do with my time than watch TV, and so did everyone else. While this still might be true, having a cancer diagnosis, even when the prognosis is in reality so good, has made me want all the opiates I can get. Working extra hours to have the money to pay medical bills, and the time to take off for surgery in addition to having newly time consuming events to deal with, like at least one medical appointment per week makes me tired. That’s on top of the tamoxifen induced fatigue and mental and emotional stress of dealing with something that, for all intents and purposes should not be happening to you, or so all seven of your doctors tell you.
When I’m completely fried, which happens at least twice a week, I park myself in front of the television to watch television programs which don’t make me think and drink beer that I shouldn’t be drinking. I’m almost over feeling guilty about it. Almost.
This process has lent itself to watching Grey’s Anatomy almost every Thursday. Because it’s a show based in a hospital the cancer connection is inevitable. Usually I can overlook it but last night when the former-Amish-girl’s surgery for a cancerous cervical tumor resulted in a Stage IV diagnosis, I couldn’t help but hear the voice in my head say, “Oh, fuck.”
I think I managed to mask the tears that welled up in my eyes just for a second as my mind made the connections that this kind of diagnosis would mean. She’s 23. Maybe she’d get a few years if she was put on the right series of drugs. Maybe there’s a clinical trial. Maybe she’d stabilize. Lots of people live with mets and are okay. But that’ll be her life now – where’s the cancer going? And to some degree, if only in her own mind from time-to-time at the very least, it will trump her career, her relationships, and the possibility of children. I was glad to not to have this experience first hand. Then I reminded myself that this was just a character on a TV show (whew!) and then quickly and automatically reminded myself that the situation is all too real and the possibility of this is wide open for far too many people.
So much for escapism. Cancer might make me more shallow, but it might also make me more forgiving, of even, myself.