After I completed my treatment for breast cancer I went to a fancy schmancy black-tie event in Philadelphia. At the party, a friend referred to my attendance as my “coming out” party (because I hadn’t seen most of these people since before my diagnosis). I had spent a lot of time thinking about this phrase. Prior to the party, I spent a lot more time than usual focusing on my personal appearance because subconsciously, I knew that it was indeed my coming out party.
Seeing people for the first time after having been sick was quite a unique experience. With their heads turned sideways, people asked, “How arrrrrrrrrre you?” I consistently felt compelled to put their worries at ease and generally put on my biggest smile and said, “Great!” because the truth of the matter was that is what people wanted to hear. People didn’t want to know that I was totally wiped out and not really myself and that there were residual side effects to my year with breast cancer. People wanted to hear and believe that life was back to normal, as if nothing happened. Ever.
I never realized until I arrived at the event that being in a big group of people whom I hadn’t seen prior to my diagnosis was a very stressful and nerve-wracking burden to bear.
At this event, I had the stark realization that I was officially a part of a club for which no one applied and no one wanted to be a member. What I knew for sure was that I was forever changed after my experience in “The Pink Bubble.”
What I also realized was that I was less comfortable grinning and gripping in crowds. I no longer wanted to be a schmoozer (not that I was really a full schmoozer before, but I could definitely work a room). Rather, I learned that I preferred being in small groups of people and having depth of conversation.
Throughout the years, people have asked me how my time in “Cancerville” has changed me. Though most people expected me to say that I ate differently and exercised more; that is not the case (especially since I still consider myself a chocoholic and continue to eat anything with sugar).
Rather, I am drawn toward depth. Depth of conversation. Depth of experience. Depth of relationships. Depth. This is quite a Shining Moment. And you all know that finding Shining Moments has been my true north during my time in the abyss.
I learned that breast cancer is the disease that keeps on giving; however Shining Moments give more. Always.