So if you’re female, and been pregnant at some point in your life, you know how once you start showing total, complete, utter strangers suddenly feel the right to walk up to you, touch your belly, and make personal comments about your appearance, family, and possible parenthood skills unsolicited, right?
Once a woman has a pregnant belly, clerks, strangers, the mail man, that dude on the street with the homeless sign, the woman walking her overly fluffy poodle, your boss, colleagues (parents or not parents) feel free to ask the most intimate details of your life.
Like I really want to tell the utter stranger whether I know if its a boy or a girl; or how much weight I’ve gained, or care to hear them discourse on old folkwives’ tales about determining fetus’ sex I’ve heard a million times; or, god-help-me horrible, squeamish details about their own birth experience.
Well, chemotherapy does the same thing.
Apparently being female and obviously bald under your festive hat means the same thing as being obviously pregnant: that homeless dude now has the green light to ask intimate details about my medical health.
Yeah, I totally want to be reminded I’m bald and have cancer walking down my street every day or every time I walk into a Walgreens.
I’m totally not exaggerating for effect. I went for a walk with a mommy friend of mine the other week. I was telling her how people come up to me all the time now and tell me about their aunt/mother/sister/niece/self who has had breast cancer. (Strangely enough, I think the female population of Rochester, MN must include 90% of the US overall patients with this disease) And she was all nodding like ‘yeah, yeah whatever.’
We turned the corner and middle aged lady walking her dog smiled at us. As we passed she was all like “excuse me, but are you under treatment?” and when I replied yes, launched into a heart-warming After School Special account of her own battle with breast cancer and now 7 years of cancer-free survivorship.
My Mommy friend was all like “oh…you aren’t kidding about people approaching you.”
Okay, survivor stories are heartening to hear (luckily I don’t usually get approached by the the people who DIE of breast cancer), but on the other hand, I was having a perfectly nice walk with a friend and our conversation was 75% NOT about cancer.
Which means I got to ignore my right breast’s bundle-of-joy for that time– and talk about intimate details of my life with an actual friend.
So it wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t entirely welcome, either.
‘Cause I’m glad that lady felt like she’d given me encouragement– and I suppose most people who approach pregnant ladies also mean to encourage. But I don’t get 9 months of treatment and then a bundle of joy that adds immeasurable meaning to my life, grows up to mow my lawn, and visits me in the nursing home. My bundle of joy was already surgically removed last February.