This morning Stefano and I got up early-ish and went to the Parco della Piana to see if we could find any birds, namely that little grebe family we’d photographed a couple of weeks ago (we did, and we photographed it again…the chicks are almost as big as their parents now…).
Anyway, as I was waiting for Stefano to get his photographic gear together, I began thinking about someone I met recently. We became friends on Facebook, too, and that is how this person found out that I have myeloma. Our friendship was over before it even started.
And that got me to thinking about the issue of telling people. About myeloma, I mean.
It’s true that most of my students don’t know what I have. My boss knows, as do a couple of other people at work. But most don’t. “Would you tell them?,” I hear you asking. Of course I would. IF they asked me. Otherwise, why do it?
After all, cancer isn’t contagious.
My do-not-tell-unless-asked policy is probably rooted in an instinct of self-preservation. I don’t want people walking up to me all the time and asking me HOW I am. That would really make me squirm. I remember a distant relative asking me something along these lines: “How ARE you? I mean, you look really great, considering WHAT you have.” Uhm. Okay.
But what happens when you meet someone new? What if you like this person so much that you think “hmmm, it might be nice to become friends…”? Do you tell her (or him) about the SMM or whatever other health condition you might have?
It’s an interesting dilemma. Especially for a blogger. I mean, the blog is such a big part of my life, even when I don’t blog because I’m busy or having fun, that it would be difficult NOT to talk about it with a new friend.
And, of course, if the new friend asks to become “friends” on Facebook, the first thing she or he will see is my link to the blog. Eh.
Well, this is what I concluded this morning:
I have some really great friends. Old and new.
I’ve known my best friend since we were adolescents here in Florence, Italy. And I’ve also made some (great!) new friends through the blog. All of them know that I have SMM, or smoldering myeloma. And it doesn’t make any difference. As far as my old friends are concerned, I’m the person they’ve always known—the playful, fun-to-be-with (at least, I think so! 😉 ) Margaret who can always be counted on in a time of need. I’d do anything for my friends, and they’d do anything for me. That’s the way it should be. Friendship, I mean.
It hasn’t been always easy, mind you. Stefano and I lost a couple of friends because of myeloma. They were probably too freaked out about it and didn’t how to behave around me or what to say. I’m happy to report, though, that those were the only ones…
But, getting back to my question of the day, what if I meet someone now, and that person is afraid to get to know me because of the cancer? Well, to be really honest, I don’t need people like that in my life. After all, statistically, I’m more likely to die of something unrelated to My Eloma. So avoiding me because I have cancer cells in my body is nothing short of silly…
Besides, myeloma is not my main topic of conversation. If you bring it up, fine, no problem. I’ll talk about it…in a no-nonsense, straightforward way.
But if you don’t, I’d rather chat about other things: the weather, food and recipes, cats, the Olympics, bird watching, going on trips, the U.S. presidential election, movies, books…