After the C-bomb was dropped into my relatively normal life, I still had things to do. I had to get back to work, mostly to keep myself from dwelling. That, and to pay my insurance, which I needed now more than ever. I hate to admit it, but the paycheck is the only thing that could get me moving after learning I have cancer.
Fortunately, a twelve hour shift at a hospital is enough to keep any mind distracted. The only problem, however, is that several of my co-workers knew I had been feeling ill and wanted to know what the verdict was. This is where I discovered I had a built in coping mechanism thanks to my career choice. Where other people couldn’t even say cancer without crying, at the hospital I was a nurse. Saying cancer was all part of a day’s job.
For the next forty-eight hours, while I was working I discussed my cancer with a clinical distance that allowed me to actually try to comprehend what was going on. I could discuss the plan of care as if I were talking about someone else entirely. There was Nurse Janine, who had a set of tasks to complete for her patient to have great care, and Patient Janine, who could go home and sob relentlessly while trying to cope with the diagnosis. It became my saving grace. I could come up with questions for my oncologist (heck, I could say the word oncologist) objectively.
While this coping technique might not work for everyone –for instance Milo has taken the route of being the man who has to be strong for his wife—I recommend it if possible. The disassociation allows for perspective. Finally I felt as if I were in control and the thing growing inside me was just something to get rid of.