Two years ago I was diagnosed with Uterine Cancer. One of the things that continues to haunt me to this day is my lack of sharing of this fact with my friends, close friends, co-workers, anyone frankly. I didn't want anyone to know. At the time, that was an important, very important fact. I forbade Dena to allow anyone in the hospital to visit me (except my mom), for the four or so days I was there.
When I look back on it now, hopefully with eyes a little more open, I realize that it was selfish. I didn't want my friends/family/co-workers to see me as weak, vulnerable, sad, in pain, sick or anything else. To allow people to see me post surgery or let them in pre-surgery was to admit that I had cancer, that it was serious, and that it was real. I didn't want it to be real. Who does?
Years and years ago, when I was in my twenties, I had two great people in my life die of horrible, painful cancer deaths. One, a friend, another a mentor and friend. Both refused to be seen in the hospital in their final days. I resented them for that. I resented them because I felt cheated of saying goodbye. One of them disappeared completely off the radar for months during the worst of it because she wanted to protect all of us from the horrors of it all. She was a tough, stoic sort, and I respect that toughness, but did she really need to bear all that pain and anguish alone? No, of course not, that's what friends and families are for. The other, a fellow from Austin Texas, an older guy, who was brilliant, I saw at City of Hope during late stage four and it was awful. It's an image I'll never forget. Do I regret it? No. Of course not. I was able to talk to him, joke, reminisce, hopefully provide him some comfort and joy, and say goodbye. With Sherry, the stoic one, I never got that opportunity.
I think that I have learned my lesson and that if, god forbid, I'm ever faced with such struggles again, that I have the strength to share it with my loved ones. The benefits for both parties far outweigh the negatives. We are humans and sharing in adversity is in our DNA and we must remember to embrace that. Nothing is gained by being "hard as a rock".