An acquaintance of mine got sick right around the same time last year that I fell really ill. Cancer. We were both previously very healthy, active and social creatures. Our illnesses arrived suddenly and dropped us each to our knees. But that’s about where the shared experience stops.
You see, he had a swift diagnosis, a clear treatment plan, solid insurance coverage and loads and loads of vocal support.
It’s terrible to say, but I’m jealous of my friend who had cancer. I don’t want to compare the two illnesses at all. No one can know the terror of a specific illness without experiencing it first hand and I don’t at all claim to understand the horrors of battling cancer. But the vastly differing experiences we’ve each had in our searches to get well has been noticeable.
People know what cancer is. Doctors recognize it. Friends understand its devastation. People know what it means to begin chemotherapy. Patients appear to be granted support, understanding and grace.
When I tell people I have late stage Lyme disease, all I see is confusion. Doctors told me for nearly a year that I was “just stressed” or that I had a psychiatric condition before I was properly diagnosed. (Seriously, when’s the last time a psychiatric condition caused you to lose your hearing, your vision and your muscles to all go rigid??) I’ve been granted support from a precious close few, for sure, and I’m eternally grateful for those who’ve been brave enough to weather this with me. But mostly I’ve been received with silence and absence of anyone who I’d formerly considered a friend. I doubt anyone would’ve been upset at me for missing a birthday party if I were fighting cancer. Where’s the grace for folks dealing with very serious illnesses like Lyme?
My friend who had cancer, he’s won his battle already. His treatment was over before I was even diagnosed. He’s climbing a mountain this summer to raise awareness and funding for cancer. As a girl who’s still just as sick as we both were in the beginning, and only just starting a very long, difficult, lonely and expensive road of treatment, I can’t help it.
I’m jealous of my friend who had cancer.