The Cancer Bully
I think cancer is a bully. It makes me anxious the same way I felt when I tried to avoid my neighborhood bully. While growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, during the 1960s, my family lived in a nice middle-class neighborhood, but we had a bully on our street. We referred to him as the mean little boy. I remember his name, but I won't say it publically. I hear his mother still lives in the same house. Let's call him Eggnatz. One of my college professors used this name to demonstrate. "No one is named Eggnatz," he explained. "So, no one becomes offended when I use this name as an example."
The mean little boy
I first met Eggnatz when I was five years old, and he must have been about four. (I'm not joking. I remember when I pointed out my bully to my grandpa, he said, "That little kid?") I was playing in the garage one hot summer evening with the door up. He walked in, and I thought he had come to play. I said, "Hi!" He slapped me on the arm and ran away. It hurt, but I was also shocked that someone I didn't even know would hit me.
Eggnatz had a reputation around the neighborhood. I had a friend who lived two blocks away. Her mother would tell us, "Don't walk by that mean little boy's house!" I knew all the ways to get to my house without crossing his path.
Standing up to my bully
When I was twelve years old, I stood up to Eggnatz. We were at a public swimming pool when he was making fun of an overweight girl. I knew the girl from school, so I knew she had a hard time. I stood in front of him and said, "Stop! Making fun of people isn't cool!" I remember thinking, if he hits me, I'm slugging him back this time. Maybe he could read my expression, or perhaps he knew other kids were watching. Eggnatz walked away and never bothered me again.
Living with blood cancer is like living around a bully. It makes me anxious at times because it's challenging planning ahead. I ask myself, "Can I do all those things in one day?"
I remember wishing Eggnatz would move. Wouldn't it be convenient not to walk around the perimeter of my block just to get home? I have often hoped that my blood cancer would move also. Yes, it would be great to have more energy.
Cancer has to live with me!
Have you ever met someone who is extremely angry about their life? Some people seem so angry that they can't even think straight! Other folks are more resilient. Despite adverse circumstances, they shake it off and go on to accomplish good things. I don't want to hide out because I have cancer. It's cancer that has to live with me.
I have always believed in the power of a positive attitude. If I could deal with Eggnatz when I was twelve years old, I can deal with blood cancer now. There is no other choice.
Have you taken our Blood Cancer In America Survey yet?