Sunday, July 19, 2015

Side Effect: Social Awkwardness

The "look".  I feel like I've got a big 'ol "C" stamped on my forehead now.

I have, TWO times, in the past week, saw someone I knew in a public place and purposely slinked away and pretended I didn't see them because I don't like making people feel awkward.  I need to stop  doing this.  Let's face it, people who know me will be thinking about and asking about my health for the. rest. of. my. life.  And I can't run away, or stand there awkwardly fumbling for words anymore.

I know that the "look" means people care.   And I've seen this "look" very frequently lately, because I've happened to hang out recently with a lot of friends who I haven't seen since I was a normal healthy person.  I'm not upset, or mad at anyone about anything.  I just hate making people uncomfortable.  And people, in general, are uncomfortable with cancer.

I see a mixture of reactions from people.  Without fail, saying "you look good", and followed by one or more of the following -
1.  Silent, avoiding asking questions of any kind about any topic
2.  Pretending nothing is different, but can't disguise the "look"
3.  Huggy, lovely, showering me with good wishes and gestures
4.  Asking pointed questions, usually accompanied with apologies for being so forward

Any and all of these reactions are completely acceptable.  I used to a be a cancer-free person myself with NO IDEA how to treat someone with or caring for a person with cancer.  I just hate, hate, hate creating an awkward situation.  I've always been a little (or a lot) socially awkward anyway.  I've always been overly sensitive to making people comfortable, and yet on the flip-side, completely unskilled at doing that very thing.

Its not a huge deal.  I just feel ashamed with myself when I end up hiding from someone I know at the grocery store.  One of my least favorite side effects.

In other news, I came across an awesome website.

Great articles about health & wellness in general.  I read this one recently.
5 easy things you need to do today to dramatically lower your cancer risk

This quote resonated with me, because its how I often feel:

"Cancer has become an increasingly overwhelming and confusing subject. Not only for everyday people, but also practitioners in the healthcare field. There are studies coming out left and right about protecting yourself from the dangers of “X, Y and Z,” so much so that it makes you wonder if you should order a Hazmat suit and just sit in a padded room to protect yourself."

Hazmat suit.   Where can I get one of those?


  1. awkwardness can't be a side effect if you had it before you had cancer. Though I can't say I've known you to be socially awkward but that might just be because you often have to have your A game on when we hang out or you'll end up in the back seat of a car delivering a clock with a strange man or lost on a mountain in Asian running on 2 hours of sleep.

    You will not be the cancer girl for the rest of your life. People are just finding out and it's still new so they are reacting funny. And you're right it's tricky and you would do the same but a year from now you'll be back to normal and though they might remember you had cancer they will have other newer memories to focus on. I have several cancer survivors in my world that I new before and after cancer and I don't immediately link that word to them anymore. They are leading full active lives it rarely crosses my mind.

    There's been positive changes in all this right? Like your life after cancer won't be the same as your life pre-cancer but I think it will be good reasons. Maybe you stress less at school, maybe you work less at home, maybe you love better, maybe you exercise more, probably lots of things. You have this now, you beat it, you move on.

  2. Now I'm trying to think if I did any of I am a bit on the awkward side myself so I understand what you mean. I think I tend to follow the other person's lead; if they want to open up to me I am happy to talk about it, but if they don't I don't ask much in case they are uncomfortable with it. This usually ends in my over-analyzing to the point of awkward.

    There are a few things if we didn't make it so taboo to discuss, it wouldn't be as big of a deal but society tries to shield people from awkwardness rather than embracing it. I say embrace it! lol Any awkwardness is part of what we love about you--and there's nothing to hate or feel awkward about in that. ;)

  3. Yes, how DARE you have a medical condition that you obviously, somehow, generated within yourself, just to purposely make people uncomfortable.Really, Heather? There will always be people who are uncomfortable, and make fools of themselves, but that's their (our) problem!
    I would also like to point out that you've always been a bit socially awkward, so you should be used to it!
    Seriously though, don't sweat it, girl! Focus your energy elsewhere.