Cancer, The Pink Elephant

by Val

Since going public with my diagnosis I’ve noticed I might be carrying something with me. There’s now a pink elephant that follows me sometimes. Since she is following me I haven’t known she is there until I see someone staring past me or curiously looking me over.

Today I’m bringing her out in front of both you and me. Here she is. Interact with her as you like but I think she is following me around because we as society don’t know how to interact with her. In no way am I speaking for everyone who brings a pink elephant to the party but I am going to speak about mine. Consider this Val’s Pink Elephant 101:

Q: Can I ask you, Valerie, questions about your Pink Elephant?

A: Absolutely! I am an open book. Ask away. I will tell you and if you get bored of me telling you then change the subject.

Q: But you said no sad faces. Your elephant makes me sad. I don’t think I can talk about her with you.

A: That’s ok! We don’t have to talk about her. I won’t be offended if we don’t. I may crack a joke if I see you dancing around her but if you ignore her completely I’ll follow your lead. However, if we are avoiding her because you think you will make me cry or you may shed a tear, don’t avoid her if you actually do want to talk about her.

No sad faces doesn’t mean don’t have emotions. It means don’t look at me like I’m dying. Cause guess what. I’m no more dying then you are. We aren’t put on this earth to die. We are put on this earth to live and I’m doing that just like you. If you look at me with dying face my ornery ass may look back at you with dying face so there 😝! Also, if I’m done talking about her I’ll let you know. If something is hard for me to say, you’ll know. My voice cracks and I pause until I get the words unstuck. All this is ok. It’s actually good for me.

Q: You don’t look sick? I’m looking at your elephant funny cause I’m trying to find the sick.

A: Well thank you and I think that’s because I’m not sick! I have a Pink Elephant not the flu. People walk around all day long with elephants bigger and more tiring than mine is right now. Theirs are divas and require more maintenance than mine does at this point. We don’t look at them everyday and label them as sick for the rest of their life. I’m not carrying that label with me either. I have a pissed off boob. I’m gonna deal with her and keep on keeping on. I may get sick at times but believe me I’m not staying sick. That sounds horrible!

Hopefully this starter guide gets us on the way to feeling more comfortable about this elephant. Please don’t think I am making light of this or making fun of anyone. I get it. I don’t know what to say in these situations either. I just don’t want anyone to feel like they can’t say or can’t ask. For me at least, you can.

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