If there's one thing I've learned through this journey is that it can be awkward to have run-ins with people in your life who are "acquaintances". These are the people who know some simple facts about your life--where you work, where in the city you live, who you date, etc., but you're not close friends so they don't know the personal dealings of your day to day life. You see them at events and parties every few months, catch up, and then don't see them again for a while. You're friendly and happy to see them but they're not necessarily your "friend". Here in New York I feel like I have a lot of these "acquaintances" because the social circles are so large, its impossible to get close enough to everyone to really call them a "friend". As a result, when I'm in mixed company of both friends and acquaintances recently I've found it hard to answer the question, "How's life, how are you?", from a person I haven't seen in a while who has no idea of the major changes taken place in my life. It was easier in the beginning of this journey, I would normally say, "Life is good, planning a wedding, etc.", but as I've dealt with setbacks, I feel like a liar saying life is so good, yet am I really going to open up about my cancer diagnosis at a dinner party to someone I see just a few times a year?? It's a strange dance to perform. I want to say everything is all good with my life, even though it's not and often I'm not in the right setting to really explain what's going on.
Last night I went to a birthday party where I saw a lot of people that I haven't seen in a while and it was good to catch up, but the inevitable question, "How have you been? How are you?" hung in the air for me. Several people commented on how much weight I had lost and it's a comment 2 years ago that I would have loved and taken as a compliment but considering how I got here, I feel awkward acknowledging it. I realized later I could blame my weight loss on a wedding diet, which ironically I would totally be on if I never had been diagnosed with cancer, striving to reach the weight where I am now. But I feel odd celebrating my figure when I got it in such an undesirable way.
And then I never know how much people know. I've been very private about my situation from the beginning (yes, even though I have a blog!). I suppose it partly comes from the shame of feeling that somehow I went wrong in life. I did something bad or wrong to deserve cancer. I know that Hodgkin's isn't the kind of cancer you get because you did something "wrong" (i.e., didn't exercise, smoke, eat bad), but it doesn't stop me from feeling like somehow, someway I brought this on myself. So I've been ashamed to tell people that I have cancer, that I was an unlucky person to get an awful disease, I almost feel like I got an STD or something, a shameful disease that I don't want anyone to know about. As a result, not everyone at my job knows, there's a fine line between who knows and who doesn't. All of my close friends know, but only some acquaintances know and sometimes I can't be sure if one friend has told another. A few times last night, I saw people who said it was really good to see me, and then I became paranoid that they knew what was going on because they had been told by someone or they just were honestly really happy to see me! Such a strange situation. I had hoped to come out of this journey with only a few people knowing, but as my journey has gotten longer, the circle of those who know has grown and that's not a bad thing because I need all the positive energy and prayers I can get, it just makes it strange when you're at a party and someone asks, "How are you?". So I can't wait for the day when I can honestly say, "Life is good, can't complain!"