Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Sense of Belonging.......

When I was at the Moffitt Cancer Center, I was surrounded by all sorts of people that were in various stages of treatment for cancer. You'd look into peoples faces and see the underlying sadness even though you could tell an effort was being made, in some cases anyway, to put a smile on their faces. I didn't feel out of place there, as I was one of "them". Unless you were in remission or a visitor or family member, you could pick "us" out of the crowd. Our skin color was different in some cases, we were "too thin" in some cases and we were either bald or in some stage of hair re-growth. The men either wore baseball caps or reveled in their badness, while the women made an attempt to wear our baldness with a hat or scarf and sometimes a wig. Some women didn't wear a thing. Good for them!! We came in all shapes and sizes and ages.......I saw people from their teens through 80's plus in some cases. I felt I was a member of an exclusive club being there, I was accepted there. Don't take this wrong, it's not that I feel like I don't belong "out" here at all, it's just a feeling you get when you have cancer and you're in a place surrounded by others that have cancer. It's an unspoken secret that we're all in this together. We are all fighting the good fight. We know how the other is feeling. That's what gives you a sense of belonging. I wasn't stared at there and I wasn't different there. When you're out in the real world, you do get some looks and even stares because of your baldness, lack of weight or a combination of both. Not a bad thing, it's just like you feel you're wearing a glaring neon sign that says, "I have cancer". I'll admit that I was always curious when I saw people like me. Of course you don't blatantly stare, because it's obvious they are fighting cancer. It's not too too bad for the guys I don't think, because lots of men shave their heads these days, but for a woman?? Well it's obvious they have cancer and have been through chemo. No matter what kind of headwear you choose, you can tell a person is bald underneath that hat or scarf! I'm not embarrassed by the way I look right now........I haven't ever in my life embarrassed easily......just ask anyone that knows me LOL I guess the point of my rambling is that until it happens to you, and you go out into the "outside" world, you don't know how it feels, and that's why it was so different at Moffitt. We're kind of like reminders to others that cancer is a part of life and we serve as sometimes unwelcome reminders to people because EVERYONE has either had cancer and in remission, is currently fighting cancer, or they know someone who has or did have or died from cancer. Although there may have been alot of sad people at Moffitt, it was also more of a place of Hope and and togetherness.

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