Monday, April 20, 2009

Why Am I Supposed to Cry?

I'm doing well. So that's 6 days in a row. Which is starting to really endanger the blog. I mean, if I'm not chemostein bald and in hives, or bloated and red and having allergic reactions to the poison pumping in to me, or flopping out of bed with my 300 lb limbs, what on earth are you all going laugh about at your desks when you're bored at work? (I note most of the blog reading gets done on Monday and Thursday....hmmmm.) Instead I'll just have to start forwarding the Novena chain email that was miraculously started online by Saint Teresa (it's no doubt how she achieved sainthood) and has been sent to me twice now--because you need a laugh and if I don't forward it apparently my 2009 will suck. Can you imagine? I don't want my 2009 ruined since it's been going so well thus far, so I'm obviously going to forward my namesake's email. And yes, Saint Teresa was totally on's the only one that existed back in the day.

Luckily though, there are always people's comments to rile me up or get me thinking (or, um, wanting to scream via blog. Is that a blogscream?). So here is my cancer thought of the day.... Why do soooooo many people think crying is the "correct" or "normal" response to breast cancer? I haven't cried. I honestly haven't. I don't even really see the point. I'm not a crier (unless it involves an animal or a funeral--then, I'm a basket case). That just isn't how I deal. But I continue to get these looks or comments from people that make me feel like said person thinks I'm not really "dealing with it" or that I'm hiding something (hello???) or that I'm going to totally crack later because I'm not crying and being all emotional over this. Why is that? And for the record, my therapist thinks I'm doing just fine. And so does the person who spends nearly 24/7 with me. That's right, Seamus thinks I'm perfect. Chris is also not expecting a breakdown and is quite happy I'm not falling apart on a regular basis. Or crying. (Men really hate it when women cry, don't they?).

Here's what happened recently. I'm toying very gingerly and with great trepidation at the remote possibility of turning the blog into a memoir (greatly pared down, of course; with names changed to protect the innocent--me, from lawsuits). The world does not need another memoir, let alone a breast cancer memoir, so that's my hesitation. But then there isn't a lot out there that deals with the situation in a humorous manner, and since I've already established that my particular "pink clique" wears black (humor) and is the minority in the Cancer Club, I sort of feel like it might be something useful to my clique, or future clique joiners. I don't know--I don't have the distance to know if it would be helpful or not. Or even interesting. And so, I brought a sample chapter to my writer's group last night. The chapter was basically the two wig shopping experiences-- the good and the bad (wig teen anyone?). (If you are really bored--or newish to the blog-- and want more's the links to the original blog posts on these adventures: Good Wigs and Bad Wigs)

One of my friends, who does know me...for over 15 years now...said that it was lacking emotion. And I was kind of floored. Huh? It's seething with emotion--anger, fear, humiliation, and finally relief and happiness. I just wasn't crying or sad or at all sentimental, because I'm not any of those things. And yet that's what people expect. Then I came home and I was reading "The Middle Place"-which is a NY Times bestselling breast cancer memoir. And it's really, really good. And she cries all the time. And people hover around her all the time. And they all cry too. When she shaves her head, as we chemo folks all do, she doesn't go out of the house for several days (I went to a dinner party less than 24 hours later and took the wig off halfway through). When she leaves the house it's with a scarf covering her head and to take her two small children and the neighbors kid to school. The neighbor's kid, who is all of 3 years old, says "You look like a monster." The kid's mother frantically explains that the kid has been watching Monster's Inc. Too late. Doesn't matter. She bursts into tears and hands her keys to the neighbor so the neighbor can drive the kids (in her car) to school. Then she walks home, calling her husband (she gets him out of a meeting!!!!) and tells him what happened. The husband says "That f***er!" And she says "I don't know what you call a man who calls a three year-old a f***er, but I called him 'my hero.'" Again, I have to say, I was floored. It's a 3 year old!!!! They also say "I hate you!" when they don't get their way. I read it to Chris and he said "It's a 3 year old!!" and I suppose, that's why he's my hero and not, say, someone like this author's husband. I will always remember (and you may too, since I posted about it before) when I had a brief moment of almost sadness when I saw a woman with the "post-chemo" hair out walking and said to Chris "There's my future," and instead of indulging me in the pity party, Chris said "Future Teresa goes walking???" And that snapped me right out of it and made me laugh. But the thing is, this crying, fit-throwing, kinda self-indulgent behavior seems to be the far more accepted and expected and "normal" behavior. So again, I'm left feeling like cancer dork.

I do have a clique however. And its fearless leader, Cancer Vixen, emailed me today!!! Yes, I was ultimate cancer dork and emailed her what was basically a fan letter through the "My Breast Cancer Network" site (yeah, I know. I hate the name too...but Cancer Vixen is a contributor, so I overlooked it.). She responded today and here's what she said:

DATE: Monday, April 20, 2009
SUBJECT: re: Love your book
OMG JUST got this! thank you LOVED the dog lived how are you feeling? You made MY DAY!! xo

I know, short but sweet and probably texted from her phone, but hey, she cares. I'm just going with that today. Today was a good cancer day. Even if I didn't cry.


  1. Apparently Cancer Vixen is a 13 year old girl...

  2. No,Cancer Vixen is totally hip!!
    (Back off people, we've had cancer!!!)

  3. this post is just so sweet. i think i'm going to cry :, ( [how DO you make a cry-face emoticon?]

    btw, i was in a car crash yesterday that totaled my car. i think YOU should also cry for me.

  4. Lori--was there an animal involved? If so, I'm tearing up right now. And, um...which Lori is this so I know who I'm crying for (Lori L or Lori T...that's all I need to know).

  5. Teresa,
    As you may remember I totally gt the not crying thing! I havent changed much and I guess neither have you :) Nothing at all wrong with not crying!!

  6. Hey Teresa,
    This isn't relevant to your latest blog, but I don't know where else to put it;0 In case I missed it or you didn't hear about the latest on walnuts (a cancer fighter) for you and for Seamus an interesting diet

    Happy day!

  7. I can make you cry, if you want. [I can so totally hit you really hard in the shoulder.]

  8. Sheesh. If you had been all sobby and crying throughout this whole ordeal, I have to be honest may have lost my interest a long time ago. I'm one of those that can better deal with things with humor. Whatever happened to laughter is the best medicine? I totally believe that. But, whatever. If people need to cry, then cry. That's just not the Teresa I've come to know and love. I did have a good cry for you when you sent out the "I have cancer" email. That was the one and only sob session. Once I got over that, I came to appreciate how you approach this. Since I have wanted to keep UTD on your health and well-being, it was actually a pleasure to check in here daily and have a good laugh (I guess at your "cancer expense") and have my coffee. Sarcasm rocks!!!!

  9. No crying huh?...chest of steel...sounds like you take after your Dad :)

  10. I'm with Laura B. I love you the way you are and it makes my day to read your blog and watch you deal/battle with this: the cancer, the chemo, the hives, the lack of helpful medical care in the I.E.…all of it. And of course the book will have emotion, as does this blog. People that don't "get it" don't need to read it. But I truly believe this book must be written! and by you!


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