Ep 05: For When You Get Cancer
Scroll down to stream the entire episode here, as well as links from the show.
I daydream about death a lot.
I imagine my loved ones getting sick or dying suddenly, often. Or, I judge it as often. It could totally be the normal amount. But I don't see anyone drifting off at lunch, eyes fixed and soft, and then coming to and being like, "Oh, sorry, I was just daydreaming my brother died."
We tend to keep that to ourselves.
But yeah: I think about it. I've never lost anyone super close to me, but I've seen enough friends lose their friends or parents that I've been around a sufficient amount of death to think about it. I think about death enough that if my boyfriend tells me he's been having frequent headaches, I think "brain cancer," and imagine what I'd do if he got sick. Or died. And how I would handle it. It's almost like I'm preparing myself, just in case.
What I definitely don't choose to think about, though, is my own death or, what I'd do if I got cancer. Which is weird, because it's definitely a possibility. Cancer is a huge part of all our lives. We either have it, or know someone who has had it, or will have it. But I don't really know how to talk about it. And I certainly don't think it will happen to me
But when another yoga teacher here in San Francisco shared publicly that she'd been diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer, I couldn't believe it. Not because we're close friends or anything. We're peers. We're both in our 30s and healthy. We're also both yoga teachers, writers, and podcast hosts. It couldn't be happening to her, but it was. So does that mean it could happen to me? There was no escaping the question this time: What would I do?
If Lindsay were in her bed, in an apartment darkened by curtains that'd been drawn for weeks, trash piled up around her, I would nod in agreement. That fits the narrative I have for cancer: Someone sick. Someone suffering. Someone who has every right to quit life and feel sorry for herself. And maybe that's why I don't like to daydream about getting cancer: I don't like that I might play a victim to it.
My interview with Lindsay pointed out many assumptions I have about cancer, but most of all is the stigma people living with cancer have as being "wounded" or "broken." Lindsay is an example of how we can change what we tell ourselves about our circumstances, and therefore change our entire experiences--whether we have cancer or not.
In this episode, Lindsay shares why she started sharing her cancer diaries from Day One, the right (and wrong) things to say to someone who has cancer, what it was like to lose her hair, and how what you say to yourself can change your reality.
Lindsay's Cancer Diaries on Vice.com, changing how we (read: I) look at and talk about cancer
The Medium article where a woman tells Lindsay about the doctor who gives women their femininity back
Lindsay on Instagram, for cute pictures of her dog, Leo, plus her inspiring creative endeavors
Women Catalysts, making networking cool again with events and e-courses
Terrible, Thanks for Asking, an amazingly real podcast