“Can I ask you about that?”
I barely had that chance to comprehend the question before the strangers peter pointer was hovering over the protruding port in my chest that had been surgically implanted in order to receive my cancer treatments like a bionic woman. She eagerly waited for me to reply while standing in my personal space bubble with questions dancing in her eyes. I hadn’t even realized that the dress I was wearing had me ‘showing port’ and flashing my radiation tattoos like a proud biker, but looking down I saw them both waving to the world and now being examined by a keen stranger.
Knowing today was going to be one hot tamale, I decided to hit the street early and walk around the quaint wee village of Jordan before my heart slapped me with fatigue forcing me back indoors to my couch in order to bask in the glories that is air conditioning. Heat has always made me a bit loopy, but with a heart not firing on all cylinders, my fatigue has a very special ‘100 year old woman needing an asthma inhaler and walker’ quality about it.
Being the open book that I am, I swiftly switched into story teller mode prepared to give a well-practiced speech about the past 20 months of my life, but the moment I said the opening words, “I’ve been in treatment for cancer…” she cut me off with recognition flashing across her face and announced quite gleefully, “me too” like she had just won the lottery and found a kindred spirit. What followed was a lengthy conversation in an empty store between two cancer patients exchanging battle scars with her adorable 88 year old friend listening with fascination because she herself had never experienced any kind of physical bump during her many years.
As the tennis match of a conversation bounced back and forth, each statement was met with an enthusiastic “me too” discovering our treatments and bodily reactions to the highly drugged circus were twins. I found this wildly bizarre since one of the very uniquely annoying things about cancer treatment is that it’s as individual as a finger print for everyone who experiences it. But as it turns out, we shared the type of cancer, how it was treated, how our bodies reacted to each step of the process, heart failure and the same doctors in the cardiology ward. The only real difference, outside of our ages and the fact she’s married with children and I’m flying solo, is that she could keep her faculties about her when talking with Dr. Delicious. I still drool, pray my legs are hairless and “humina humina” my way through our conversations!
It was our own version of a ME TOO movement and I loved that although I knew nothing about this 65 year old woman, we just ‘got’ each other. That has been one of the most amazing things about this experience, the strangers I connect with instantly, the random gab sessions in the most obscure of places and the wonderful powerful realization that I am never alone. No matter what I experience in this surprising life, it is comforting knowing there is always a ‘me too’ out there I connect with.
Her 88 year old friend continued listening with amusement claiming that she’d never be able to get herself through such an ordeal. But that’s the funny thing about the human spirit, we don’t’ know what we are capable of until it is licking us on the nose and we have to deal with it. Strength, support and joy are always there for the taking. The impressively healthy friend then announced that she was tremendously grateful for her life, and now connecting with her, I energetically replied, “ME TOO!”