I was thinking back to the time over 4 months ago when I first got news that I had cancer. I remember telling a friend:" I don't want to be part of that club - the cancer club! I want to be seen as Karen, the person, not Karen, the cancer patient!" Unfortunately there was no clause enabling me to opt out of the club, so here I am.
This week, however, I received my "official membership" into the club. When thinking at the beginning of this journey about losing my hair, I felt it was an advantage to be going through this during the winter because then I could just wear winter hats and nobody would even know I had cancer. I would especially not wear scarves or those little head coverings that would reveal my situation instantly. Up to this point, besides family, friends and aquaintances, people really couldn't tell I had cancer. Many people would even say to me - "But you look so well, not sick at all." This week that changed. After discovering beautiful silk scarves in a small boutique here in town, fun hats at a thrift store and lots of big, dangling earrings on special... I realized for the first time - hey, I could have fun with this! Not being especially fashion conscious throughout my life, I never really was too preoccupied by make up, jewelery and so forth. Here, before me was a unique opportunity to experience something new. So I decided to embrace it and enjoy wearing new colors and styles - "my new look".
Then came the real initiation into the club - going out in public, wearing one of these new creations, instead of a winter hat. This past week-end I went to church, a funeral and a few stores with my membership card on my head. People looked, some with compassion, some turned away, little kids stared... but it was OK. I smiled, dangled my earrings and kept going on my way, doing my thing. I am part of this club and I can be proud to be able to be in solidarity with so many who have gone before me and fought and survived this same battle. And I also know, as my friend Karey shared with me, that when people see I have cancer it will open up amazing doors to be able to meet, connect with, listen to and encourage others as they share their story with me. It's all a question of perspective. I thank God for helping me see this and for the grace to embrace it.