#MyLeftBoob Chronicles: #Cancer is Not Contagious but Ignorance Just May Be…

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Today my daughter and I went to our (no longer) favorite place to get manicures/pedicures right near our house. We are usually pampered, treated very friendly and have a nice mother-daughter bonding day. My doctor said it’s important to do things that are relaxing and make me happy so we thought this would be a fun little indulgence.

After a year of  going to this nail salon, today was the first time I went in with my head wrap. Maybe they didn’t recognize me without my wild and crazy fiery red hair. Maybe they instantly saw the “chemo hat” and thought “she’s sick….” “she’s contagious….” “I don’t want to deal with that one….” The normally welcoming Korean ladies were suddenly aloof, didn’t smile or give eye contact… didn’t make the normal small talk.

One woman started working on my daughter’s feet while the older “lady” (I used that term loosely) who was supposed to be doing my pedicure puttered around, mumbled in Korean, went to the back room, and shouted across the spa at the girl at the desk and the other girl across the salon. She clearly did not want to wait on me and after seeing her cough, sneeze, pick her nose, and make her disdain so completely obvious, I didn’t want her near me either. There is such a thing as manners and clearly she had none.

I sat there, my feet in cold water, for a full 30 minutes while the second girl did my daughter’s pedicure, before the young lady at the desk came over to tell me someone would be right with me. The older nose picker swapped clients with the younger Asian girl mid-pedicure which made it very obvious she didn’t want to wait on me.

I felt like saying, “Don’t worry, I’m not contagious.” I felt like telling the no-manners lady that picking her nose in public with a tissue is still picking her nose in public. It’s unhygienic and not classy….at all. I felt like telling her that I hope cancer never touches her family because she will never know how it feels to be discriminated against simply for having the misfortune to get sick with something you can’t control. But I sat there, casually ignoring the 800-pound elephant in the room that everyone was trying to ignore.

Sorry my cancer makes you feel uncomfortable. Sorry I’m trying to go out and feel somewhat “normal” when my life is upside-down and in turmoil. Sorry to inconvenience you with my illness which, by the way, is not contagious.

I had a similar experience at a public event (before I lost my hair) with someone who I thought was a friend who snubbed me…. even after I said hello right to her and she just turned her head, giggled and laughed with her other friends. Yes, cancer is uncomfortable but just by saying hello to me won’t make you get it. Don’t worry. Yes, it’s awkward and makes people act weird. How do you think it makes me feel?

The worst part of getting cancer is not losing hair, feeling nauseous or feeling tired and dizzy all the time. It’s being ignored by those you loved when you thought your life meant something to them. Above all we just want to be treated normal with dignity and compassion. I would never wish this upon my worst enemy. Cancer has killed a few of relationships I would have never thought could be destroyed. And it has also help to heal a few that I am so grateful for.

If I have learned anything from this journey so far it’s that I have a choice as to who I let into my life and those who I won’t waste any more time, or money, on. I can choose which businesses I support,which “friends” and even family I allow in my life and which ones are no longer worth it.

And although getting snubbed at the nail salon today royally sucked, I am so incredibly grateful for each moment, and each teaching experience I have with my teenage daughter where I can show her how not to act. I can teach her how to ignore idiots, be the bigger person and rise above the rude ignoramuses. Through my battles, I can teach her something about strength and character. And that is priceless.

To support my breast cancer battle on GoFundMe to help cover medical expenses related to the very rare type of cancer I’m fighting, Metaplastic Carcinoma, please click here.

 

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