..Breast Cancer, Romance Books & I
“Wise is the Woman who shamelessly reads Romance. Yes she is!” Full stop. This is now my answer to anyone questioning my choice of reads. It’s up to the person questioning me to figure out what I mean by that statement. For a long time I tried to defend myself. Now I don’t.
It’s a pity that it took breast cancer to make me fully understand that escapism (within bounds) equals sanity and that anything that contributes to our sanity is something we should fully embrace, weather we’re facing adversity or not. After all, only a handful of human beings can deal with reality and reality alone. Most of us need a form of escapism.
I’m grateful that my Mother was a relentless reader. She forced me to enjoy my own company. “Learn to entertain yourself”, she’d say. “..and if the silence gets too loud, read a book!” She had an endless collection. Most of them, romance. I had free access as she hardly monitored my choice of books. With that much freedom, it didn’t take long for me to find out that romance was the way to go.
Then there was my psychologist. Luckily I was saved the task of having to find a suitable counselor as I already had one prior to my breast cancer diagnoses. Shortly after I was diagnosed, she asked if there was anything I had a passion for. Maybe something I hadn’t done in a while and would like to start doing again. “And by that, I don’t mean jumping off buildings for fun because it gives you a rush. You don’t need something that will consume the energy you’re going to need for treatment”. “Find whatever it is then try to balance it with what is going to become your reality. You’ll need it.” Later I would come to understand what she meant.
And so, a few months into my breast cancer treatment, with too much time on my hands and my mind wandering to dangerous places, I turned to my lost love, reading. I silently thanked my Mother and her countless monologues about how I should pick up a book and read. I thanked my psychologist for putting me back on the right track.
Another day, a different test, the same hospital waiting room.
The night before was hard but it’s gone, the journey to the hospital is fine because I always have someone with me and we almost always have something to chat about. But at a certain point one is done chit chatting about trivialities, silence takes over and serious thoughts invade the mind. I try sitting still for a moment and look for something around me in the waiting room to occupy me.
The elderly lady serving coffee, she looks kind. What’s her story? Does she have cancer too?
Why did that couple bring along their children? Who is battling cancer in their family? Is it the father or the mother or even one of the children?
That’s a pretty painting on the wall. I wonder if other patients see the same thing that I do? Or maybe they’re awaiting bad news and therefore don’t even notice the painting.
And what’s with hospitals and art? Do they really think that a painting or photograph hanging on the wall will take your mind off your ill health?
Wow! That’s a colourful scarf on that gorgeous woman. I wonder if I can find that to go with my aqua blue top this summer. The chemo has taken all her hair. I wonder if chemo ever forgets to take a patients hair.
That couple in the corner. They’ve been whispering since they walked in. She’s crying. Is she in pain? Or is she dying? Maybe she’s crying for him.
I wonder what my tests will show this time. What if it’s bad news? What am I going to do then?
Nothing is interesting enough to hold my interest in a positive way. Every attempt to distract my wandering mind leads back to something negative and before I know it, my thoughts are suffocating me. They’re sucking up the little energy I have and I find it hard to even breathe. This is one of the many times that I whip out my book, preferably a romance book and delve into a world that is not my own. There will be time for scary thoughts later. For now, I immerse myself in someone else’s world which almost always leads to the all too familiar happily ever after. And with that I can dream of my own happily ever after. Whether it comes or not isn’t the point right now. The point is that I can hope, I can dream, I can feed my happy hormones even if my happy is coming from a romance book. I can save myself from going crazy which saves my energy. Energy I will need to fight another day.
(Image courtesy of vintage stock photos courtesy MementoMori-stock @ DeviantArt)