It creeps up on me every so often. Last time I had it was two days ago. I’m not a big believer in dreams but this one gets to me every single time.
They say you shouldn’t tell people your dreams, it always leads to bad luck. Well, I don’t believe in luck either.
I’d be my 4th grade self every time, sitting on my elementary school’s ping pong table when a doctor would come in with my mother to inform me she has cancer.
I’d wake up in tears every time only to be reminded that my nightmare is other peoples reality.
The numbers of how common breast cancer is among women is all over the place but you never really notice how big they are until someone you know has it.
It has dawned on me very recently that so many of my friends’ mothers, a pair of my previous teachers and a few other women I’ve encountered in my two decades on this earth have or had breast cancer.
But another, very important, notion dawned at me after that. A large chunk of our society is dealing with those who have underwent or are currently diagnosed with breast cancer, or any type of cancer, in a very demeaning way. I am in no position to tell people how to treat each other but for the few of you with a conscious, I hope you take the following points into consideration the next time you’re discussing cancer – whether you’re around a patient or not.
The “Hayda el Marad” Social Illness
“Hayda el Marad” (which translates to “that disease” for my non-Arabic readers) is a very common but very degrading cancer reference term we use in our culture. As if saying cancer out loud it will make it come back and bite us. We are that cowardice. Cancer patients deserve the acknowledgment to what they are going through and will appreciate every speck of support. We can’t just go around speaking of what they’re living with as some sort of taboo.
People don’t realize that cancer patients aren’t only physically affected by their disease. It hits them on an emotional level as well. This applies even after they’re cured with the constant worry of it coming back.
Cancer is Mean Enough
Be nice to people in general but please be nice to people with cancer as well. The emotional ruggedness they undergo is tough enough Don’t be afraid to talk about their illness but also don’t patronize them with non-stop questions about it. You can show them you care in different ways. Small gestures from the heart always help, especially if the diagnosed person is close to you. Your “call me when you need me” won’t help because we both know they probably won’t.
Is your busy insensitive mind running out of ideas? Here are a few:
- Ask them if you can bring something for them with you whenever you’re visiting. Even if they say no, get them something with you. A cup of coffee or a doughnut – make it something safe though.
- Send them flowers every once in a while.
- Send them jokes whenever you come across any.
- LISTEN to them.
- Read to them.
- Play some board games.
- Make them playlists.
Guilt is Normal, Don’t Flaunt it
It is normal to feel guilty at first but your friend/acquaintance/family member/stranger has this disease due to biological reasons so get over yourself. In the process of doing so, don’t flaunt your guilt. It would just make them feel uncomfortable around you. Turn your guilt into support; hug them whenever you’re out of words.
ALSO FOR THE LADY WALKING DOWN HAMRA STREET FROM LAST WEEK (& ALL THE OTHER IGNORANT F’S OUT THERE) ASKING HER FRIEND IF “HAYDA EL MARAD” IS CONTAGIOUS, NO IT IS NOT.
Communication is key. Love is key. Love each other. Spread the awareness. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month after all.
Speaking of, our ever-so-generous government will now start covering breast-cancer reconstructions for any one who needs it.