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Monday, January 7, 2013

Pointing out the obvious

This post is in response to Anonymous' scathing attack on me and my blog. Ordinarily I'd just ignore it but I thought it a good idea to point out the similarities and differences between cancer survivors and infidelity survivors. Now, this is not an academic piece. I did not spend hours getting stats and evidence to support my opinions. These are based solely on my own experience, and like I mentioned before, my BFF who I will go into detail a little bit more.

She (I'll call her Betty) is 52. She was born in Indonesia and came to America as a toddler. She married at 18 and had cervical cancer at age 21 and was told she could never have children. Surprisingly she found herself pregnant with identical twin girls at age 34. She seemed to have an almost idyllic life. We were best friends; I was also pregnant with my first child soon after and we lived less than a mile from each other. Our husbands travelled with their jobs and we spent all our time together, helping each other raise our kids. She basically raised the twins alone as her husband was gone so much. 

Fast forward to five years ago. The twins were now 14 years old and Betty and her husband had been married thirty years. She had moved many times for his job and started over. The owned their business together and she was very involved in the company. She wasn't completely happy over the timespan but she is a very religious Christian and believes in staying married and working things out. A routine mammogram showed her to have stage 4 breast cancer in her right breast. She started chemotherapy to try to reduce the tumor to save her breast. Two days after her first chemo treatment, her husband said, "I'm outta here", and moved in with his administrative assistant. Yes, this "woman" she considered to be her friend and co-worker was fucking her husband. 

HE LEFT HER WHILE SHE WAS UNDERGOING CHEMO. AFTER 30 YEARS OF MARRIAGE. Not only that, but her daughters went to live with him and never returned to her. They are 19 now. He has turned them against her. He actually told them she had "fake cancer" just to manipulate him into giving her money (alimony).

Long long story short, she is now a 5-year cancer-free survivor. She has a cute one-bedroom apartment in California 3 miles from the beach and has an awesome job and boyfriend. She has turned her life around 1000% percent. I have been through hell and back with her and she with me. She is the one who made the parallel between cancer and infidelity since she has gone through both!! She discovered her husband had been cheating on her with her co-worker for more than a year prior to getting cancer. She also was able to find evidence of cheating that went back 10-15 years. 

In my experience (and through the friendship with Betty) here are a few of the similarities between cancer and infidelity:

1. You never forget the day you found out.
2. The date, the time of day, that moment is etched in your brain and heart forever and on its anniversary, you re-live the pain all over again. Forever.
3. You didn't ask for cancer or to be betrayed. You did nothing to cause it.
4. You know in your head it's not your fault but you can't  help but feel you did something to cause it. (My friend thinks all the Diet Cokes she drank to stay thin caused her cancer and I think if I had been a better wife/paid closer attention/fill-in-the-blank he wouldn't have cheated).
5. We get PTSD from the trauma. 
6. We get depressed. We withdraw from others to cope.
7. We believe we will die every day as we try to recover.
8. The triggers are everywhere. When you are having a good day, there's always a trigger to set you back. Betty tells me she hates the month of October with all the "breast cancer awareness" everywhere. She can't escape the horror and is reminded constantly, and of course, feels badly about it because at least people care and are trying to raise money for something she has suffered from. With infidelity, the triggers are everywhere as well. Our traumas often happened in our homes. Movies glorify affairs. Sometimes, the person who betrayed us leaves us and we are continually traumatized.
9. We feel so differently about ourselves. We lose self-esteem.
10. We are never really "cured". We can't stop looking over our shoulders for it to happen again.
11. It changes us forever. We talk about our lives as "BC"--before cancer and "BI"--before "it" (infidelity).
12. The pain is excruciating. 
13. We either die or get better. 

Differences:

1. With infidelity, our scars can't be seen. With cancer, they can. Betty had a bilateral breast removal.
2. With cancer, you tell everyone. Everyone sympathizes. No one brings soup to an infidelity survivor. We cope alone.
3. There are no fund raisers for victims of infidelity.
4. Chemo causes hair loss. I didn't lose my hair. Huge difference.
5. Admitting we are vicitms of infidelity is shameful. Admitting you have cancer isn't.
6. No one would ever accuse a cancer victim of being "self-indulgent" and "narcissitic".

Again, this is not all-inclusive. Again, this is not an academic piece. This is based on my own experiences and that of my friend Betty who's dealt with both. As you can see, off the top of my head, I came up with half as many differences as similarities. 

My point Mr. Anonymous (I'm assuming you are a male now, because I can't imagine a female with that kind of hatred and apathy) is that you have not displayed any kind of experience that validates your venom. If I am wrong, and either cancer or infidelity has touched you PERSONALLY, I encourage you to share your experiences with us here so we can better understand your position. If not, I encourage you to keep your mouth shut.