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I Attended My Own Memorial Services, I Was Really Glad I Did | by Connie White | Aug,

Cancer Does Not Have Me!

I made up my mind early on to never say “I have cancer”, but rather “ I received a cancer diagnosis”. I wanted to have my mind and body hear that I was not going to let myself be entangled in the web of this, but instead I was going to raft down treacherous waters of treatment with a paddle furiously sweeping myself through. I was going to go into treatments imagining every cancer cell disintegrating. In that keenly present time I had of possibly living or possibly dying, I had to decide what I wanted. Everything in life is a bargain, and I decided my bargain was for more time on this earth, with the only life I ever knew.

The Tale of Three Ghosts

I use imagery and story to sort through my feelings and circumstances in many occasions in my life and this time was no different. I became what I named “The Tale of the Three Ghosts”. After surgery, (which involved a radical hysterectomy, removal of many cancer-studded lymph nodes, and removal of something I never even knew I had — my omentum), I was and felt literally hollowed out.

I no longer had a core, and I felt like a ghost with some outside structure, but empty inside. I was also a physical ghost of being so uncomfortable at times as I was recovering that I couldn’t sit still, but wandered restlessly around the house. And I felt like a spiritual ghost suspended between the possibility of dying and the possibility of living.

Dignity Is My Superhero

As I moved amongst the state of being “three ghosts”, I also wrestled with the sentiment that cancer is a “battle”, the “Fuck Cancer” t-shirts and tchotchkes, the occasional societal expectation that I was now in some sort of superhero mode.

I pondered this for a few days, to see how I could imagine myself in a way that resonated with me. So I came up with my own superhero called Dignity. Dignity was going to be how I navigated through treatment, how I showed up, and how I always would want to be treated by others. Not as a pathetic creature who got walloped with a sad health crisis, but as a dignified person with a soul and mindset that was very much alive.

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