Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Part of the Club

Fine Chossid- You got me out of hibernation.

I went to a wedding last month of a good friend who is part of "the club". This friend is someone I talk to (or text/email) at least a couple of times every day. We have both been through cancer, both have had our scares and experiences with this, but they never come up in our conversations.

We are both normal people today. Absolutely fine and functioning and happy people. We both teach, and we both kvetch about our school days together, and we complain about piles of laundry, cooking suppers, and prices of shoes. We laugh at stuff together too. We laugh at how she got locked in the bathroom for an hour until someone heard her yelling and came to save her, and at the silly things my son does, and at how much we kvetch.

We met through our common denominator- the "club", but stayed friends because we have so much else in common.

At her wedding, I met another club member who actually was the one to first introduce me to the "club" when I first got sick. She was two years younger than I was but had already finished her treatment and was growing her hair nice and curly when she introduced me to some other kids in the group.

We were really excited to see each other again, and after catching up, she introduced me to some of the Kallah's friends that I didn't know. Most of them were fellow club members. I was shocked at how many of us there were.

She then brought me over to another friend of hers and I asked "Oh, is she in the club too?" And my curly haired friend laughed and said she belonged to another club.

So now, shmoozing with the not-so-new kallah, and talking about her wedding and all the club members I met there, she told me that our curly haired friend had said that I asked about her other friend in that "other" club.

She had said it as a joke. There is no other club...But really, I think there is.

For a long time I forgot what it was to think outside the box. I thought that cancer was all there was. And now, the closer I get to remission and the further I get from treatment, I am in a way, growing up.

I will never forget my bout with cancer- but suddenly, I hear things that I realize are much worse. Some of my friends are having hard pregnancies, one of my friends is going through a divorce, another has a sick child. We're all young kids, and so many are going through so much. How did I ever think I had the monopoly on the keys to the club?

I talked it over with my friend and she said that no matter what, cancer still gets a much bigger reaction from people than say, a divorce. I must admit she is right. Even I, who have been there and done that, get a lot more stressed about a person with an illness over a person with another kind of struggle.

But I'm not right. There is no such thing as a single club- I think in some way everybody belongs to some size shape or form of the "club".

Not only that, I feel that my time as a member of the club is slowly fading. Even though I strongly identify with everyone there, I know that I see myself as an alumni of the club- an honorary member. I feel that even my own club is not really mine anymore.

I love being there for people who want and need it, but sometimes I feel so guilty. Who gave me the permission to do that? Who gave me permission to name myself part of this club?

I think I realized that today I'm part of another club. I'm part of the club that has been there and is still there for others, but glad to be out of there herself. It's like the club was a hole and now I'm on the top of it, helping people out. I feel guilty sometimes - as if I'm only shouting inspiring things into the abyss but not really there with them, but today I realized that I don't need to be. Others need me to be in my NEW club- at the top, ready and waiting to lend a hand to someone needing to be pulled out of the dark.

So I'm proud to start my new club. And all my friends who were in my old one are more than welcome to join! There's no president or anything, we're all the same- here to celebrate being here and there to get as many people from that club into this one!

And a special mazal tov to my latest out of the last club member- mazal tov on finishing radiation and on IY"H getting that Port out! You're almost there!


hassidic said...

wow wow wow that was great i can breathe again. I could identify with you, not with the cancer thing but just with a different experience. and you're right. once you are over it for a certain number of years, if you bring it up people look at you and say "you're over it, not get over it. its not your situation anymore." but really it is because once you go through something it changes you (for better or worse) and stays with you forever.
Good luck

halfshared said...

I think the reason why people get more hysterical over cancer is because very often it's a threat to the patients life whereas with a divorce, as horrible as it is, hopefully they'll get over it and move on. Our world identifies much more with physical pain than emotional pain. Just like people frown upon emotional illness and think the person is at fault whereas with Cancer, people know it's something that couldn't have been prevented..which is so wrong because in both cases, nobody is at fault.

amazing said...

i don't really agree with halfshared completely because the stigma attached to a person who went through a divorce and a person who nebach had cancer is pretty much the same. people run in the opposite direction. true people do identify more with physical pain than emotional pain but sadly enough, i have heard peoples' reactions upon hearing that someone had cancer "she probably did something wrong and this is hashems way of punishing her". I almost threw up when i heard that because its just the opposite. Hashem chooses the most pure and innocent among klal yisrael to teach all those sinners out there a powerful lesson that if someone so blameless got sick, they had better shape up quickly. But half shared is completely correct in saying that no one is at fault in either cases.

Bas~Melech said...

About your previously thinking that your club was It -- don't worry, that's part of adolescence. You were a teenager, they all think like that to some degree, though many feel more individually unique instead of affiliated with a club (NO ONE can understand what it's like to be me... yeah, she's also ____ but it's different for her because etc. etc....)

halfshared said...

" but sadly enough, i have heard peoples' reactions upon hearing that someone had cancer "she probably did something wrong and this is hashems way of punishing her."

You can't be serious??? Omg, I AM throwing up. How did you react to that? I'd probably be so disgusted..good thing nobody ever said that to me.

Anonymous said...

hey, i'm actually going to respond to this one - because it got me good! JACP --- you know me (dr. suess poem...!) and it's completely true - divorce, cancer, loss of child, bankrupcy... all these are unfortunately 'clubs' that many belong to - most of the time not by choice. there are some who tend to 'accept' the cancer club, say more than the 'divorce club' because it is a physical illness and they didn't 'choose' it - but they're all wrong.
i've been part of MANY clubs, and best club to belong to is the one where you can truly say - i've gone through my 'stuff' and now i'm stronger, happy and ready to help others.
kudos - great job!!
CALL ME!!!! :)

J.A.P. said...

Anon! Which Dr. Suess Poem??? I'm lost!! YOU call ME! Cept you cant do that till tomorrow cos I left my cell at work Thursday....

Anonymous said...

c'mon - don't tell me u don't remember that dr. suess poem!!! when i gave u the cat in the hat journal....!!!!
got it now, huh?!

J.A.P. said...

OMG ANONYMOUS!!! THAT Dr. Suess poem!!!! How could I ever forget?!?!?

We MUST talk one of these days I haveta hear how you're doing!

Anonymous said...

...For example, you are not part of the "older singles club" like i have been for the past couple of years. And you will never understand what I am going thru just like I'll never understand what you or any other person is going thru. As soon as I get out of this one I will surely make it my business to help eveyone else out .

little sheep said...

don't forget that some clubs are buried so far down that it's very hard to know who belongs...but then, people in 'those' clubs tend to attract each other even more...without even realizing it!