I recently relocated to a state several hours away from where I’ve lived for the past 14 years. In my old state, my cancer state, I was well ensconced into my cancer community, giving speeches, writing for local publications, and making my presence known. My coworkers knew my situation, accepted it, and embraced me. But now, I’ve yet to divulge my cancer past to my new friends and current employers and I wonder if they notice the subliminal differences between me and other women they know. Have they Googled my name? How will I know how much they know? How do they view me? In awe or with pity?
Am I so dissimilar than other women? Do I appear stronger, or do I seem anxious or fragile? Are there more lines etched in my brow than most women my age?
Do I look like someone who had cancer? To me the signs are obvious but am I really an accurate representation of the women who have been marketed on thousands of products and advertisements? Am I damaged goods or a force to be reckoned with? Does a glimpse of one of my scars or tattoos beg questioning? Will they ask? Will I tell the truth? Do they wonder why I draw on my eyebrows?
Do I fit the image of a survivor? Or do I seem a victim? Do I appear happier than the average person? Do I seem more grateful or can you see the edge of bitterness I try so hard to hide because a disease barged into my life, uninvited, taking my breasts, and with them my innocence?
I wonder if they would they be surprised if I told them all of it; all of the pain behind the pink.
How would they view me?