As someone who hasn’t had a cancer diagnosis, there’s no chance I’d elect to get one. But I understand where she’s coming from. For my friend, cancer was temporary. She had surgery, then chemo, then radiation…and then the celebration of “ringing the bell” and being called a survivor. She was done and we all celebrated! Within a year of finding a lump, the cancer was gone. But that’s not the end of the journey. I’ve watched her go through multiple reconstruction surgeries, memory loss, neuropathy taking away feeling in her feet, and the fear of a recurrence or secondary cancer. Cancer isn’t just here, treated and done. It’s gone and my friend is fortunately well. But it wasn’t just one year and done.
My friend’s perspective is that cancer came and went, but Type 1 goes on forever. Each year she celebrates the day she became a cancer survivor. I celebrate my “diaversary,” the day that I was diagnosed and my life changed permanently. There’s no escape, there’s no day where this ends. And it could kill me, just like cancer could. That’s the comparison my friend sees. She fought, she won, and I…I’m going to have T1 for the rest of my life unless medical science pulls off something I’m hoping for but not expecting. Type 1 is the gift that keeps on giving…and taking…and could take me out.
Another factor is one that same friend and I have discussed in the past – it’s much easier in many cases to be the patient than the observer. She barely remembers what she went through with cancer because she was in the middle of it. The rest of us remember watching her suffer. Living with T1D is just “what I do” every day because this is my life. But she sees me stabbing my fingers, shaking from lows and waking up to alarms at 2 AM and constantly monitoring every tiny detail, and she doesn’t want any part of it.
Does my friend’s statement make sense? It’s all about perspective. I understand why she feels the way she does. But this is a great example of choosing the evil you know. I wouldn’t pick cancer over T1, and she wouldn’t pick T1 over cancer. Given the chance nobody would choose either of these. But she survived cancer and I’m doing pretty well with Type 1, so it makes sense we’d both pick our own disease. It’s too bad we’re in a place where we could have this conversation, but I’m grateful we’re both here to have it at all.