“Handling it so well.”

For some unknown reason, I have had loved ones and acquaintances tell me, “Lara, you have been handling your Stage 4 so well.” Every time I have heard this, I’ve been taken aback by this comment. Why would anyone think I’m handling my disease so well?

I have lived alone for the past 6 years, and I’ve been working from home for 2.5 years now. I’m not around any single person for extended periods of time. I stopped running, so I’m not seeing my running friends on a regular basis anymore. This is the most isolated I’ve been in my entire life.

Yet, I get these remarks about my state of mind. One day, I’m going to respond, “Am I handling it so well, or do you only see what I want you to see or hear?”

The weeks leading up to my 3-month scans always do a number on my mental state. I wonder, “Is this going to be the scan that changes everything?” As of right now, my cancer does not appear to be motivated and content to stay put in my sternum. I used to be anxious and scared out of my mind that my cancer was going to come back stage 4, and now that it’s confirmed stage 4, I’m anxious and scared out of my mind that my cancer is going to spread throughout my body.

How is anyone supposed to “handle this well”? I don’t think it’s socially acceptable for me to be periodically shrieking to people, “Do you know how fucking scared I am?” I have to deal with this the best I can because again, I live alone and there’s nobody coming along to “save me” and take care of me when I can no longer take care of myself. You know how terrifying that is?

What’s going to happen to me?

Living with stage 4 cancer is like staring down a mama grizzly bear alone in a forest. It’s not a matter of if but when.

I honestly believe several of the people who have said this to me wanted to convince themselves that I’m okay and totally don’t need any help. That way, they don’t have to ask or actually do anything. Out of sight, out of mind, amirite?

I am so appreciative of my friends and loved ones who have not assumed my state of mind and sincerely ask how I am doing. I am definitely grateful to be able to still work because it ensures a 40-hour reprieve from all things stage 4 cancer. This disease is full of emotional landmines, plus all the side effects that come with treatment (i.e., joint pain, weight gain, stomach problems, sleep issues, etc.).

I am handling this the best I can, but for the love of dog, don’t ever assume you know what’s going on with me. That just infuriates me.

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