And

Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint): One person couldn’t feel all that. They’d explode!

Hermione Granger (Emma Watson): Just because you’ve got the emotional range of a teaspoon…

                        –from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007 film), in which Hermione tries to explain all the emotions felt by Cho Chang, causing Cho to cry while Harry kissed her.

I started looking into (breast) cancer blogs in search of solace from the forced cheerfulness of the pink ribbon culture. I was lucky to find a few, like thepinkunderbelly, unafraid to point out the un-pretty and unpopular thoughts, feelings, and facts about cancer. But I follow other blogs about cancer, often finding good tidbits of info, and sometimes I see disturbing stuff.

It seems the majority of posts I see include “inspirational” quotes. Lately I have seen a few that are “encouraging”, but in a chiding and judgmental way. I will not reprint them here, for fear of offending my readers who might have posted one of these quotes. Hey I’ve even reblogged a few myself, the ol’ cancer curmudgeon doesn’t mind a bit of uplifting inspiration once in a while. But one I did not reblog stuck with me. It implied that people in bad situations have a choice: they can be and remain angry or accept their misfortune (getting cancer). In fact, it implies that one must choose between being angry or accepting. To this I ask, why can’t I accept my misfortune, deal with it AND still be miffed, annoyed, yes even angry about it?

I do not understand this drive or pressure to turn cancer patients into a nation of Ron Weasleys. I feel many things at one time, thank you very much. I especially don’t get it when the pressure comes from fellow cancer patients. A few months ago at a retreat another patient told me I need to just accept how things are, because I can’t be angry all the time. I bit my tongue, thinking, “maybe you can’t handle anger, lady, but it motivates me to do something”. Why on earth does everyone want to tell me how or what to feel? And, while we’re at it, what makes this judgmental behavior acceptable in our society (people like telling others, especially women, how to feel and even what to do—just look at shit people say to pregnant women or women with toddlers)?

My emotional range far exceeds that of a teaspoon, or a cup, or even a gallon jug. Maybe an oil tanker would be big enough for my emotions, because, unlike Ron, I am so capable of feeling more than one thing at a time. The health care professional who runs the cancer support group I attend is fond of the word “and”, as am I, because to not say “and” is soooo limiting.

Here are some emotions cancer made me feel (usually considered negative):

Anxious, Stressed, Scared, Apprehensive, Overwhelmed, Weary, Intimidated, Depressed, Angry, Upset, Frustrated, Annoyed, Disappointed, Pressured

AND

Here are more emotions cancer made me feel (usually considered positive):

Happy, Delighted, Confident, Strong, Powerful, Determined, Humorous, Compassionate, Inspired, Relieved, Eager, Enthusiastic, Pleased, Proud

I often felt any number of these, from both the negative list AND the positive list at the same time, in any number of combinations.  Being angry, stressed, AND depressed may cripple other people but it motivates me to speak out, demand better medical expertise in the world of cancer, better prevention, etc. I am angry I got cancer AND I am grateful I survive. I am stressed and depressed about the events of the past 24 to 30 months, AND I am inspired and eager to become an advocate for others who will follow me into Cancerland. I’m all of these things right now.

Now one last word about the issue of acceptance, which was part of the quote I read that set me off on a tangent to write this post. I can accept that I am angry. I feel anger AND acceptance for my situation. To those who lecture about “acceptance”, why can’t you accept me and my messy, passionate overflow of emotions, of which I feel all at once? Why is passion such a threat?

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Author: Cancer Curmudgeon

Oct 2010 diagnosed with Stage 3, HER2+ Breast Cancer. Completed treatment Jan 2012. Waaaaaay over pink. Applying punk rock sensibility to how I do cancer.

One thought on “And”

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