Ever since I got breast cancer, I have cultivated a new hobby.
I read the newspaper obituaries.
Not just any obits - I have a goal: I'm looking for women who died of breast cancer.
I know, it's morbid.
I'm not sure why this started. I've certainly never been a death notice reader. Unlike my husband - who during weekend breakfasts would scour the obits and seem delighted at seeing one of his dead mother's old friends listed - I found it a peculiar thing to do. I assumed his habit was some way of connecting with his mother, but I never understood using death as a means to reminisce.
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, my newspaper reading habits changed. Dear Abby? Out. Death Notices? In.
I'm not sure why I do this. I know most of us, when we read stories in the paper about somebody who has tragically died, look for reasons why it could never be us.
"Well, I wouldn't have been out at 1:00 a.m. so that random freeway shooting couldn't have happened to me." It's a mental trick we use to distance ourselves from tragic accidents and death.
Obviously, since I have cancer, that reasoning is out.
Am I looking for clues as to what they did wrong in treatment so I can feel I'm doing it right?
Unlikely, as I haven't seen any "refused chemo" or "believed only in spirulina and reiki" obituaries.
When I see a woman in her 30s who has succumbed, I do find myself saying, "Oh, she was young, it's worse for them, that's why." but I have no such excuses when I see somebody 50 - and there are more of them. Or us.
Perhaps it's my way of facing an alternate reality. I've never believed I would die of this cancer, and I still don't. But, technically, I could. People with my pathology do, all too often. It's not completely out of the realm of possibility.
Maybe my obituary reading is my own mental trick, except rather than using it to distance myself, I am reminding myself that yes, this is a disease that one dies from.
And, I have it too.
My here and now
1 day ago