Wednesday, December 26, 2007

My favourite present this year

Christmas marked the 9 month anniversary of finding the lump. So this year has been utterly dominated by cancer, whichever way I look at it.

So my favourite present this year was suitably cancer themed. It was a book I'd heard of - a graphic novel written by a New Yorker cartoonist or graphic artist who'd been diagnosed a few years ago. It sounded sassy and intelligent and a very personal account of a similar experience.

And it's called Cancer Vixen - a title I love.

If you know any woman who is young and has just been diagnosed or has ever had breast cancer, I highly recommend you get her a copy. My friend Chantal gave me mine. And she was (very sweetly) incredibly nervous about giving it to me. She was afraid it might not be welcomed, because it was about cancer.

Believe me, when you have had cancer, everything sort of becomes about cancer. Your world has a new point around which to turn, you have a new centre of gravity. I may be getting back to normal now, but it's a different kind of normal. It's more about learning what the new normal is post-cancer.

So cancer never goes away, and can never remain hidden for long. Yet people are nervous about bringing it up and drawing attention to it.

So if you're worried about how to react to a friend who has cancer, don't tiptoe around the subject. Buy them the subversive cross stitch 'Fuck Cancer' embroidery kit, or get them a copy of Cancer Vixen, or get them a Pull My Hair T-shirt for when their hair falls out and attack feels like the best form of defence. Meet the bastard disease head on, and with humour.

Believe me, they will love you for it.


georgie owen said...

Aaah, Anne-Marie. Back to the main game... Where else can you be after your world has stopped with a diagnosis of cancer. As mine did too, five years ago now.
You may like to have a look at our
Australian breast cancer site:
'Breast Cancer Network Australia'.
There are some great photos up there at present and you can read 'stories' from young women and others. I can tell you from my experience you don't go back to 'normal'. It is a different normal that is redefined through fear and uncertainty. I spent days and days reading other womens' accounts of breast cancer.
It became morbid and depressing in the end but I think it's something you simply go through. I'm here to tell you that you'll come out the other end but it does take time; cancer is all-consuming and those of us who have been there understand that well. I felt an overwhelming need to connect with others in the same position. Both by reading and by talking. To know that I wasn't alone.


Georgie Owen

Claudia Gene said...

I agree - I found cancer vixen on the web very soon after my diagnosis in March. Im 43 and much of it was so relevant (and funny). Pictures of the biopsy needle....