Monday, April 6, 2015

In losing 'the filter' I gained new perspective ... and other really deep, philosophical stuff

You know what's really dangerous about cancer? I mean, besides the fact it can kill you?

It's deactivation of "the filter."

Pray tell, what is the filter? you ask.

Why, it's that part of your brain that keeps you from saying inappropriate or downright crazy stuff. It keeps you from dropping the "F" bomb during a big corporate meeting and from blurting out “OK, so your mouth is moving, but still I find myself not giving a shit" to an acquaintance who is incessantly complaining about rush-hour traffic in whatever overpopulated city he/she lives in.

Admittedly, my filter has always been a little warped. It's the only explanation I have for why I liked to regale people with a play-by-play of the time I got food poisoning from a local Chinese restaurant and stupidly went to bed without a diaper on. But still, I could be counted on to show some restraint...occasionally.

Nowadays, I just blurt stuff out, usually in response to someone being an idiot. It's like I have voluntary Tourette syndrome or something. (See, there I go, probably offending people with Tourette.) So add "ability to silently take bullshit" to the list of cancer casualties. I used to be such a champ at masking my emotions. But I just don't see the world the same way anymore. And when the majority of people haven't had cancer, and don't share the same perspective, that can be an isolating feeling. Ask cancer survivors how being diagnosed changed their lives and they will probably tell you they spent a decent amount of time re-evaluating relationships, careers and everything in between.

Danger, Will Robinson, danger!
She's about to speak!
Now, not every cancer patient will have their filter switch to “off.” There are some people out there who, following such a diagnosis, will still manage to show amazing vocal restraint and spend their free time twirling around in a field of wildflowers like they’re in a goddamn Sting video or something. I am not one of those people.  

In the aftermath of a potentially deadly diagnosis—and amid the reality of a BRCA2 mutation that will dog me for the rest of my days—I’ve come to fully appreciate laughter, my children’s accomplishments and my friends’ milestones. But I have also become steadfast in my belief that most everything else we deal with on a daily basis is self-inflicted or at the very least, in the grand scheme of the universe, not worthy of more than a passing thought. Certainly not the drama-rama people stir up.

As my oncologist pointed out, it’s not really fair to judge how the rest of the world reacts to so-called stressors. Most people have not faced their own mortality and doing so provides you with a much different perspective on life. And I wholeheartedly agree.

I guess I just wish people wouldn't wait for such perspective to come from a cancer diagnosis or other life-altering event.

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