At Target last night, after a cancer recovery meeting that went way past bedtime:
Stranger: Girl, WHAT did you do to your arm?
Me: I went and got cancer.
Me: I know! Can you believe it?
It happened not once, not twice, but four times during the hour that I shopped, treating myself to new sheets and towels, and picking up thisandthat, as always happens at Target. (My girlfriends and I are convinced that it’s just not possible to get out of there for under $100. Target’s got some magical sway over us, I suppose, but stuff — and it is just stuff, no matter how necessary — just flies into our carts.) Now, I realize that the lymphedema wrap makes it obvious, but, really? I didn’t expect four strangers to stop me and ask what I’d done to myself. (Oooh! I gave myself cancer! I know! I was so clumsy, I went and broke my CELLS.)
The second time, I was taking compression singlets (tank tops for running, only I need them for lymphedema compression, since my core is swollen too, in every place I had radiation) into the dressing room. (Oh, and no, they didn’t fit. For some reason, all of them required boobs. And perfect underarms. But I digress.)
The third time, it was a woman I passed in the detergent aisle. The fourth, the checkout clerk (who, as it turns out, had cancer too — 16 years ago — and we had a most wonderful chat).
Once upon a time, I would have covered it up. Made a lame joke. Made an excuse. Said something — anything — to avoid talking about cancer. But I told you. I’m done.