Non-Cancer-Patients Have Feelings, Too

February 17, 2010 at 9:31 PM (Family, friends, Recovery, WTF) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Before I was The Carcinista, I was known as the Fashion Nazi. Working hard at building a style consulting business, I was the go-to gal for advice of all sorts (“I have this wedding to go to…” or “Gee, how about we go to the mall this weekend? I’m looking for boots…”) and quite popular when friends or acquaintances wondered if this outfit made them look fat/out of date/mutton-dressed-as-lamb. Clients streamlined their wardrobes and lost fifteen visual pounds/years. Fashion review columns flowed from my fingertips. Withering red-carpet reviews became my calling card.

The downside, apart from wasting countless hours lost in W and on, was that in social situations, good friends and new acquaintances alike were constantly apologizing for what they were wearing. “Gee, Kate, if you’d told me Sarah was coming to the party, I would have dressed up!” I tried to explain that unless they were my clients, their appearance was their own business, and it didn’t matter to me what they wore, but I guess Clinton and Stacy’s reputations preceded me. No matter how much I reassured them, there were always sheepish mea culpas for all-black outfits, comfortable shoes, or un-made-up faces.

Now that my public persona has shifted a bit, although I’m still the sassy style arbitrix I always was (with occasional forays into the yoga-pants-and-oversized-sweater look on schlumpy days), I’m still getting bowing and scraping from people. Only this time, they’re apologizing because I have cancer. Everyone has gripes. Everyone has a lousy day, a sore muscle, a bad cold. But no one feels like they can tell me about it, because my cancer trumps any other life gripe.

Thanks, everyone, I appreciate your…what, grasp of reality? But it’s all relative. My reality is mine, and your reality is yours, and if you’re sore from shoveling snow, it’s okay to complain about it. I promise I’m not thinking, “Wow, what a selfish bitch she is, grousing about sitting in traffic; I have CANCER!” I actually got back in contact with a dear friend after a too-long hiatus, and she told me she hadn’t called in over a year because she’d been having confusing medical problems but they didn’t hold a candle to mine, and she hadn’t wanted to complain. Are you kidding me?

Look, kids, you love me, scars and all. And I love you, baggy sweatshirts and all. And I want to know what’s going on in your lives because I care about you and how you feel. So complain about the flunky at Starbucks who screwed up your chai. Cancel our playdate because you have a headache. There’s no measuring stick for a crappy day.

Just don’t tell anyone I dress you if you wear that out in public.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine


  1. Theresa Mayhew said,

    I could not have said it better. You’re absolutely right about everyone’s experiences being their own and it being all relative.

    I like that saying that if everyone’s troubles were put in a pile, we’d probably take back our own.

    Take care,

  2. red rabbit said,

    there’s a chance other cancer patients aren’t all as able to see past their illness… well said…

  3. mynameisnotcancergirl said,

    Can I just copy and paste your entire post and call it mine? Well said, and so dead-on accurate.

  4. Amy Hofmann said,

    Tee hee!! All well said.

    I must add too, that she means it. Sarah left me to nicest, sweetest, most heartfelt and genuine VM a few months back after my miscarriage. I keep saving the dang thing on my phone just so I can review it.

    I am glad I have her the opportunity to give me such perfect comfort by letting her know about my sadness. She’s still my greatest friend, not just a good friend who happens to have cancer.

    Oh, and Sarah? The last line is killer funny.

  5. Nina the slackmistress said,

    I’ll take this moment to de-lurk (I’m a friend of Ed’s from BU!) and say this is wonderfully written (like the rest of your blog) but you actually made me laugh, which I had begun to think was impossible on the Internet any more.

    • sarahfeather said,

      Thanks, Nina! Quite a compliment coming from a writer who actually gets PAID!

  6. Ann said,

    I had the perfectly hilarious response to this but ADD hit and I had to get up to get a cracker and then chemo-brain hit and I forgot what I was going to say.

    Whatever it was, it wasn’t as good as this blog post. 🙂

    I don’t think my cancer is the biggest problem in the room and I love clothes and fashion but don’t care what anybody but me wears. When you come to CA, you need to look me up!

    • sarahfeather said,

      definitely! did i mention my sis and B-I-L and fam live in Folsom?

  7. Ann said,

    I think you did! Well, there is lots of fabulous shopping at the Outlet Malls there, so let’s meet up next time you are out here. 🙂

  8. JQP said,

    Right on S! We do have feelings…and after reading your recent post I’m just cleaning up my house while allowing a good cry. That’s okay, right? I feel I’m entitled…you’ve won me over with your cynical humor and mad tennis skills…I officially consider you my friend now and therefore I’m emotionally open to both the good and bad things that you may encounter in life…as I would be with any friend. So there! Deal with it.:)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: