Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I hate phones: a little bit of housekeeping

I hate telephones. I've always hated them. It's one of the things the Bear and I have in common.

For me, it's because I'm a listener and a pleaser. I'm so busy listening to what the other person has to say and trying to respond appropriately that I never can think of a thing to say about myself. A well-meaning "How've you been?" usually is enough to give me a case of temporary Alzheimers, where I can't remember what I did five seconds ago, let alone last week. I make myself feel stupid on the phone. I've always been a writer more than a talker.

For my Bear, the situation is much more loaded. Both his mother and his last, very dearly loved partner had protracted battles with breast cancer before they died. When you have a deadly disease, naturally every anxious friend and relative has to be contacted and then wants regular updates. This was in the days before everybody had a computer or an SMS-enabled mobile, let alone any facility for group messaging, so my beloved Bear's phone was ringing off the hook for about a year each time. (That is not a hyperbolic statement. He ended up with chronic pain in his phone arm and a racing heartbeat, and the doctor told him to stop taking and making calls before he ended up dead too.)

Now lightning's struck a third time in his life. Yesterday I too was diagnosed with breast cancer. Amidst the shock and bewilderment, what was always obvious to him has become suddenly and blindingly obvious to me: unless I take affirmative action Right Now, there are going to be a LOT of phone calls. And honestly, I would do ANYTHING to avoid taking him down that road again. It nearly finished him last time.

It's not that we don't want to communicate with people! We do. BUT (and that's a huge BUT) I believe that there's a correlation between stress and cancer. The last thing two phone-haters need right now is a constant barrage of phone calls, given and received, as we try to include everyone who wants and needs to know about my progress in the loop.

So here's the first thing I need to tell you:

Please, if you want an update, DON'T RING or expect us to ring you. Check this blog for the latest on my fight against the Freeloader that's taken up residence in my left breast. 

There's only so many times you can recite the details of your latest operation / test results / prognosis before you start to feel like your whole life is about cancer. I can see that already, after ONE DAY. I am SO not going there. My life is not about cancer. The information you want will be here.

You're still welcome to communicate with me- really you are- this is not the brush-off! But most of the time, if you want to talk to me about the Unwelcome Interloper I would rather have an email or a message via my Facebook page than a phone call, unless you're a member of my inner circle of friends and family.

Or, of course, unless you want to talk about something other than the Freeloader. In which case, go for it.

And if you want to express support for the Bear, please try keeping it to two sentences which don't require an answer- like "I heard about the cancer, mate. You don't have to say anything but just know I'm here if you need anything, okay?"

And then talk about beer. LOL. Or take him out sailing, or fishing, or something.

Have we got that sorted?

Yes, you can answer me or make a comment right here on this blog- of course you can. This is the right place to talk about Unwelcome Pathologies. Away you go!


  1. To the woman whose influence helped me become who I am today, I have read every word and am right behind you and the Bear. And I have just been on the phone (that blasted contraption) to my own patients who were also waiting for results. You have already helped more people than you know. Right behind ya, xx