My feelings about ‘community,’ especially as pertains to cancer, are conflicted. On one hand is Groucho Marx, who once said that
he didn’t want to belong to any club that would have him as a member. On the other hand, there is a lovely feeling of being in Paris and walking along the Seine, far from the Charles and Boston, wearing a Red Sox cap, and passing other be-capped member of Red Sox nation (giving just the slightest of raised eyebrow acknowledgement) — connection. So, where does our cancer community come in?
I think we want to choose who belongs in our cancer community — maybe it’s members of the treatment team, best friends, new friends, spiritual mentors, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, moms and dads, clinicians and researchers. Maybe it’s a social worker with whom a bond was developed. Regardless, this is a community where the cancer patient holds the velvet rope to the exclusive club. The patient decides who gets in and who isn’t on the list.
Sometimes, people seem to really want (desperately want) to be part of another person’s cancer community. Other patients or a friend of a friend who has had a cancer experience they want to share. But, maybe they aren’t your cup of tea or their experience is different from yours or maybe you just don’t feel like having another friend right now. You, as the cancer patient, don’t’ really need a reason. It’s your choice to let in who you want.
Like Groucho said, this cancer club isn’t one that most people want to be part of, even if they’ve been given exclusive membership. But, once in it, you can choose the people to let in and that can be a wondrous thing — a community of people who’s energy and love matches your own, who feed your soul. You might not want to be in this particular club, but as long as you are, slip on the baseball cap and be on the lookout for your brothers and sister in spirit.