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December 24, 2004

So I lied: a wee cancer reflection

It's Christmas tomorrow and you have cancer.

That, to me, is permission to feel the way you feel.

So often people expect certain responses. At a funeral you are expected to be sad. At a wedding, happy.

Don't let other people's expectations give them power over you. Let yourself feel the way you feel. When I was originally diagnosed with cancer, way back at age 18, my first response was relief. Yep, relief.

I had been sick for so long, just general malaise, that I got the sense that people thought I was faking it, or wasn't as bad off as I claimed. That cancer diagnosis felt like "Wow. You guys have to shut up now. I KNEW I was sick! I'm not crazy after all!"

Of course, the stark raving terror hit later, but there it is.

So on Christmas you will feel nostalgic and happy and terrified and sad and melancholy. You'll have energy and you'll be exhausted. You'll want to touch and to hug and you'll want to be left alone and touching will make you tense.

People will look down on you for laughing at a funeral or being boisterous on Christmas when cancer patients should be glum. People will expect you to be scared for yourself but maybe you're thinking about your family instead. People will expect you to be weak, or strong. People will EXPECT. Screw them. Yep, I'm a pastor and I said it: screw them.

Feel the way you feel. It's bad enough being sick without also being a prisoner of someone else's expectations.

Life, even life with cancer, is meant to be lived freely. Let yourself feel the way you feel, whatever that is.

Oh, and have a merry Christmas!

Posted by Dan at December 24, 2004 01:19 PM

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Merry Christmas, Dan.

Posted by: Joel Caris at December 25, 2004 04:49 AM

Back atcha, Joel! Don't get in any trouble while I'm gone.

Posted by: Big Dan at December 25, 2004 07:01 AM

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