Cues and context

At the conference last month in Texas, my cue was the name. If someone called me Becky, I knew that they had read at least part of this blog – if they called me Rebecca they knew me in a more professional context. Calling me Becky signalled that the person knew at least part of my story. They had context. I thought I blogged about how the name was a signal for me – but I cannot seem to find it on either blog, so I may not have actually written it.

Over last weekend in Ottawa, I attended part of the Canadian Unitarian Council’s Annual Conference and Meeting. Many people there knew my story. Since I go by Becky with my church friends, the name was not a signal. Instead the signal was my hair. If someone said, “wow you have lots of hair” usually following by a deep heartfelt hug, then I knew they knew my story. A funny aside, someone commented that it was no longer socially acceptable to rub my head, which made me giggle. If they said “you cut your hair” then it was clear that they did not know. This happened a few times. At least once, when someone asked me how things were going in California, I said that “I had some health issues”. I told others “I had breast cancer”. I found myself playing with different ways of approaching the topic, but for the most part, I just accepted heartfelt hugs and smiled. I certainly did not go under hugged on this trip.

One of the biggest challenges for me on this trip is the sense that I people are “happy to see me well” and “glad to see that I’m strong”. The problem is that I don’t feel that well or that strong. I found that I was surrounding myself with visits, but at the same time I exhausted myself. I had to remind myself that I’m still recovering, that I’m not there yet. It doesn’t help that my neuropathy in my feet is acting up, as is some tendonitis in my shoulder. So my body is providing a constant reminder to me that I need to take more time to heal. I need to rebuild my strength. It isn’t something that comes back overnight – just because treatment is over, doesn’t mean that I’m magically better, magically stronger. These things take time, and I need to remember to give myself that time.

I’ve been gone for a week, and as Spirit of the West is apt to say, “I need home for a rest, take me home…


  • Becky

One Comment

  • This week has been a mess revisited as I fill out my late tax form and enter each out of town medical trip for my health care deduction. Luckily I’ve had an opportunity to share afternoon dog walking trips with Leslie’s friend who had breast cancer 2 years ago and I don’t have to gloss over the treatments like I do with those who haven’t experienced the system.

    I’ve come to see explaining this stuff to people who don’t know it a waste of time plus it drains me so I’m dropping my medical history as a topic with the uninitiated. Until my strength is back (which I’m focusing on now) Scott never had cancer. Denial? Why not.

    Love this song: Beth Hart – Leave the light on

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