Cancer is awkward
The New York times has an article featured of a girl that is undergoing a bone marrow transplant for leukemia, her name is Suleika Jaouad. She describes how and what she feels when has told people that she has cancer. She is very distressed with the thought that she has to hear other peoples opinions and stories about their experiences of cancer and asking many questions about what she has to undergo.
She states “I’ve struggled with the awkwardness of cancer ever since my leukemia was diagnosed last May. When I told people my news, some people froze, falling silent. One person immediately began telling a story of an aunt who had died from the same kind of leukemia. “Will you lose your hair?” someone blurted out. “Are you going to die?” an ex-boyfriend asked.
Breaking the news of my diagnosis felt like an existential game show in which people rushed to buzz in with the first thought that came to mind.
I admit to sometimes being hurt by the way my friends have reacted to my news. Some didn’t write or call at all. Those who did often sounded uncomfortable and distant. I needed their support, and I wondered where they were”.
She continues to state than when she was in hospital many people who came to visit her changed there opinions about her because of her condition and changed the way they acted because of how she was feeling. She hates how people changed what they did and said about her behind her back.
She then says “When I was first in the hospital, some of my visitors seemed so intent on not upsetting me that they avoided the topic of cancer altogether. Others just couldn’t seem to find any words. When two college friends came to visit, I watched their faces fall as they took in the sight of my bald head and sunken cheekbones. The last time we’d seen each other was at graduation, over diplomas and flutes of Champagne. An awkward silence ensued, and I sensed it was up to me to take the initiative. I took a deep breath: “So, can you believe how weird I look without any hair?””.
Sulekia says that her own cancer experience as changed her for the better and she can understand how others have gone through the same thing and how they have been treated differently.