Recently I met a number of people who haven’t seen me for a while, but who know of my condition. To a man, they all remarked when they saw me, “Hey Gary, how are you feeling? You look great.” I, however, know that the true meaning of these greetings is actually the following: “Hey Gary, I know that you have terminal lung cancer, but you don’t look like someone with lung cancer. Are you really okay?”
I realize that people expect me to look like the stereotypical cancer patient, bald or with a covered head, thin and gaunt, with hollow eye sockets and pale complexion. The fact that I am still fat and happy, with all my hair, bright-eyed and dark complected, must make people wonder if I am truly a cancer patient. Don’t get me wrong, I am excited and pleased that I don’t look like the classic cancer victim, and I hope this visage lasts a long time. But the down side is that people who know me get a false sense of security that I look so healthy. They think that this means that I will win my fight with this disease and that I will live a long life.
I have to keep the reality of my cancer in the forefront. I know that my “honeymoon” is only temporary and that sometime soon it will end. At that point I may begin to look like the stereotypical cancer patient that everyone expects to see. I wonder what they’ll say to me when they see me then.