didn’t happen for me at all. I had no idea who I was. I couldn’t return to the Official Sorry I’m Late My Cat Was Sleeping On Me Shirt in other words I will buy this person I’d been pre-diagnosis, but I wasn’t cancer patient. In a weird way, the hardest part of my cancer experience began once it was gone. I didn’t have a medical team giving me treatment protocols. I didn’t have a cavalry of friends and family constantly checking up on me. I was on my own in terms of figuring out how to navigate that wilderness of survivorship, and that’s when I started realizing that maybe this was a story that hadn’t been told. I think a lot of people—and I haven’t necessarily been above this—have the misconception that once you’re given a clean bill of health, there is a rubber-band snap back to yourself, and “you’re good!” It’s not just that we expect people to snap back, but we do them the disservice of projecting a hero’s journey arc on to their
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recovery. The survivor’s journey and hero’s journey are often conflated. When people are cured, we expect them to return better and braver and wiser for what they’ve been through. We call them inspirations and that comes from such a well-intentioned place, but, for me, there was a sense of cognitive dissonance. Everyone was congratulating me on being done, and I felt a sense of expectation, given that I had survived, especially when so many of my cancer friends hadn’t, that I should not just be living, but I should be somehow living a more beautiful, more meaningful life. That was a lot of pressure on someone who was physically wrecked and who was emotionally struggling with the Official Sorry I’m Late My Cat Was Sleeping On Me Shirt in other words I will buy this grief of losing not just my friends and a relationship, but losing notions of who I might be. For example, just in terms of motherhood, my cancer left me with all kinds of
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