The tendency to find good things about cancer annoys me. I like being optimistic, but cancer is such an ugly disease that attempts to lighten it up seem offensive. If you have similar reactions, please forgive me while I talk about one blessing cancer has brought me.
I heard on the radio recently that most of us hang out only with others who share our beliefs, even on Facebook. Certainly that tendency has been true in my life. Most of the people we entertain in our home are similar to us in age, politics, education, and religion. I wish that weren’t true. I like hearing the opinions of people who disagree with me, but in our polarized society having cordial discussions about the ways we differ can be hard.
I’ve experienced the exact opposite in the cancer world. People who have had cancer share a special bond that transcends our politics, age, religion, and educational background. I share a special smile with a young colorectal cancer survivor at work even though we rarely cross paths on a typical work day. One of my best friends in my on-line inflammatory breast cancer support group has a political point of view diametrically opposed to my own. When I go to my annual North Carolina IBC lunch, I enjoy chatting with women and their families ranging from their 30’s to 80’s. On this website, I get to know women from all over the world intelligent women coping with a dreadful disease with courage, wisdom, and humor.
Thank you, my breast cancer sisters, my cancer friends. I appreciate what we have in common. I cherish the ways we are different. I love you all. Happy Valentine’s Day.
Phyllis Johnson is an inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) survivor diagnosed in 1998. She has written about cancer for HealthCentral since 2007. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the oldest 501(3)© organization focused on research for IBC. She is a list monitor for an online support group at www.ibcsupport.org. Phyllis attends conferences such as the National Breast Cancer Coalition’s Project LEAD® Institute. She tweets at @mrsphjohnson.