It might just be the teacher in me that tingles at the mere thought of a committee, but when it was suggested I interview for the Patient and Family Advisory Council at the Juravinski hospital I was all over it. A way to give back and feel supported all at the same time? Sign me up!
Turns out this group is made up of incredible people and with the hospital launching its new website, the Cancer Centre was eager to show off what we do. It was decided that a veteran of the group would be interviewed and then they would film the rest of us during a meeting to splice through the original interview.
Dressed up in polka dots, streetwalker red lipstick and a sparkly headband, I arrived the day of filming feelin’ fancy and good to go. All that was really expected of us, was to be ourselves as we addressed everything on our agenda and ignored the person with a camera roaming around room catching different angles and facial expressions.
Still basking in the after math of another great meeting when I got home, I began to get a feeling that something just wasn’t right. I reached up to the back of my neck in order to undo the little button holding my top together when my heart sunk. It wasn’t done up. Could it have been open the entire day?
The slit of my shirt extends half way down my back and without long hair as a distraction, this was truly alarming. I paused in wonderment, “did I forget to fasten my top closed?” I then laughed, “noooo, it must have come undone on my way home.” If my top was spread eagle wide open, someone one would have told me… right? After all, I’ve stopped strangers in public to tuck in tags, fixed hems caught in coats, picked off wandering lint and pointed out things that I would expect someone to graciously point out to me. So no, there was no way this was undone during the entire meeting. Crisis averted.
The big day finally arrived, time for the grand reveal of hours of interviewing, touching up and editing. We all watched with eager anticipation as the masterpiece was projected on two large screens simultaneously. Smiles were lighting up the room as we showed off our pride for how well they had captured the essence of our mighty little group.
And then I froze. Ice ran through my veins as the screen cut to a shot that showed off my back side; I mean, literally, half of my back was exposed.
If the flaps of the shirt had both folded outwards I could see why someone would think it was the style, as inappropriate as it was for a board meeting, a style none-the-less. But one flap was up, and the other dramatically wide open, showing off my haven’t seen the sun in years skin. Really? A full hour of filming, only minutes used and they chose footage that showed my chemo braininess at its finest?
When regaling this tale of embarrassment to a friend over tea in Starbucks, she laughed heartily as I emphatically emphasized that this video was going to be available for the world to see for many a year to come. I was officially the harlot of the Cancer Centre! Attempting to catch her breath mid-hysterics, she kindly stated that it was my duty to show the world the realities of chemo fog, and applauded me for once again giving 110% to what I do.
Laughing at myself has turned out to be a special kind of medicine over this past year and a half. I’m grateful for every seemingly embarrassing moment, from hairy legs with hot doctors, to wearing two bras to yoga, then the time I showed up for a funeral and the director thought I was there to set up my own funeral instead of attend one for someone else. The awkward, mortifying moments will always be my favorite and I heartily agree with Claire from Letters to Juliet, when she says “life is the messy bits.”
Cancer, you may force me to wear ugly, comfortable shoes because I can’t feel my feet, be the most painful bikini wax I’ve ever received, screw with my taste buds, zap me of all energy and forced me to make special friends with a porcelain bowl, but…you will never get my sense of humour.