Are we not entitled to be happy?

I was just reading a fellow Metster’s blog and it started me thinking (could you hear the grinding of cogs where you are?); why do so many people expect us to be miserable and suffering bravely?

http://tellingknots.wordpress.com/2012/08/29/its-cancer-not-a-stubbed-toe/#comment-1312

I work in a college and went back to work yesterday after the summer holidays.  Not a wonderful day because it has not yet been settled as to where I will be working (admin) so had to bring my stuff home again, though luckily I hadn’t taken too much.  Also the reason I had to go in was for the Principal’s start of academic year pep talk and the statutory fire safety, health & safety and safeguarding training which we all have to do each year.  The Principal’s talk had an Olympic theme to it because the Olympic Torch Relay came to the college in July and we had an event to celebrate – complete with rain because this is the UK and that is what we do best!

As well as the opportunity to catch up with folk and how things had gone for those who worked during the summer holidays, it was also a day of ‘how are you’, ‘you look so well’ and ‘you’re always so cheerful’ comments.

  • How are you?  Oh, fine and plodding along nicely.
  • real answer – feel like crap a lot of the time, really beginning to wonder if IT is progressing, tired most of the time, mobility getting worse, but if I tell you that you will all avoid me like the plague.
  • You look so well!  Thanks.
  • real answer – forgot our glasses again did we dear?  Looks, however, can be deceiving and a bit of a sun tan covers a multitude of sins … wait until January!
  • You’re always so cheerful!  Yeh, thanks.
  • real answer – what else am I supposed to do?  Mope around all day being depressed (though I am very capable of doing that as well!) and not enjoy life?

If anything having Stage IV cancer has been the happiest part of my life.  I have been able to let go of the past and some bad experiences, because holding on to them is counter-productive.  This diagnosis forces you to face the reality that we are indeed all mortal.  I was diagnosed almost exactly 5 years ago, though it took them 4 months to realised that the hip problem was from metastatic spread and not just me complaining.  I have outlived my original metastatic diagnosis, and the average survival time … well there is no way I am ever going to be an average person!  Yes I have been through the fear, anger, bitterness, depression, hopelessness that is almost inevitable with this disease, because after all, who comes out of the consultant’s room going “yeh!  I’m going to die!!!”?  Those traits of having this diagnosis are still there, but what I also found was a profound determination to prove ’em wrong.  In short, to enjoy life and do things that I had always wanted to do.  If not now, then when am I going to get the opportunity?

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