When word got out to the wider community that I had Breast Cancer I began to develop a mild form of agoraphobia, it wasn’t so much that I was scared of leaving the house, I was more scared of bumping into people that I knew. Other people had become a constant reminder to myself of the impending uphill slog of surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation and more surgeries. Whoa this was more shit than I could stack. I was trying to focus on one aspect of the treatment at a time, the questions and advice from well wishers was too confronting for me, I was having trouble digesting what felt like impending doom.
The kicker for me was the arm rub from well wishing acquaintances. These were very lovely people in their own right, however I had never before crossed into the physical domain with these people. My instincts became very sharp, I could pick out a potential arm rubber in a crowd, I could see them eye me off and then walk towards me with the same determination of killing a cockroach. I just knew what was coming next. The outstretched arm would be cocked ready to close in on my shoulder at any given moment… The arm rub a seemingly compassionate gesture, which of course it was would go on for what felt like forever to me. I was so aware of being rubbed like a little sick dog that my brain couldn’t focus on much else. Words would become muffled, just the warm and unwanted touch of a stranger was at the forefront of my mind.
I used to cringe, first it was the “Ohh I heard about the news”, or worse I would have to endure the stories of So and So had breast cancer and she is now fine…blah blah blah.
In hindsight I now realise that these arm rubbers had the warmest intentions and were genuinely trying to connect with me. I was just too scared to accept what was happening to me. Umm I’m pretty sure it seemed like a good idea at the time, however, I told someone that if they continued to rub my arm any harder a Genie would pop out of my arse.