Almost incognito again


Being incognito suits me. I’ve never wanted fame or fortune, celebrity doesn’t really mean anything to me and money is just something I use to pay bills, put food on the table and support my son. Undergoing chemotherapy threw a spanner in the works; it made it impossible to remain anonymous. Passers-by didn’t know who I was, they couldn’t name me, but they certainly knew what I was.  I was the person drawing pitying glances, puzzled stares or desperate attempts to avoid eye contact.  I was the thing many people don’t want to name.

Cancer, embodied. A walking, talking materialisation of the scourge a lot of us dread as much as death itself. The dreading isn’t without cause – I know as many people dying of cancer as I do surviving it. Many are young, too young to go through what they’re going through and much too young to be facing death. They have no choice, they won’t be cured in spite of surgeries, treatments, living healthily or fighting to survive. They’re being cheated out of life by the biggest cheat I know.

Because cancer is a cheat and because it can resume its destructive course at any point I’m much more conscious of time.  The red sand in the Wicked Witch of the West’s egg timer is never far from my thoughts; time slips by too easily. Every moment is precious, even the difficult ones. This year more than all the years that have gone before I’m making the most of every moment and that’s how I know I’m almost incognito again.

I’ve been able to get a hair cut, (it’s still boyishly short but at least it bares some resemblance to being styled that way), go out for a meal and go on holiday without turning heads, evoking whispers or sorry glances. Shop assistants no longer ask if I’m ok and I don’t look (or feel) like I’ll faint if I stand for more than a minute or two. I’m not a disgusting translucent yellowy-grey colour anymore either. I’m approaching normal although I’ll never be completely normal. There are scars but I don’t wear the cancer patient badges any more. I pass as a woman who let her hairdresser get scissor happy and that suits me just fine. It’s taken a long time and turned my whole life upside down in the process but I’m here and come hell or high water I’m not going to waste a second looking back. I’m almost incognito again. Long may that continue.


12 thoughts on “Almost incognito again

  1. Very well said Tracy. It’s a pity that most people don’t realise how precious their time really is, especially time spent with loved ones. You were already aware of this before your life was turned upside down. Make the most of your spare time, spend it doing things you like and with those you enjoy spending your time with. Love and {{{hugs}}} always. Dad xxx


    • Thanks Dad, I put all of my positive traits down to my upbringing. All of my negative ones are my own doing! Time goes by much too quickly and Im glad I have chance for a period of “doing nothing” before I have to get back to a more routine way of living. I just wish you could do the same … Euro millions 😉 xxx


  2. Good news!
    Just one thing: normal is over-rated.
    Wait: two things–YOUR normal is likely to be quite interesting :>)
    Okay: three things (I lied in line two, evidently).
    Just last week, at a local conference, I struck up an interesting conversation with a fellow educator whop, as it turns out, is also a breast cancer survivor. She was diagnosed at stage four and it had already spread to, among other things, her liver.
    That was ten years ago.
    Like you, she’s also now the kind of person who squeezes every bit of life out of every moment. I was struck, at the time with the similarities to your case.
    Is this something that being a survivor leaves you with? …that is, an appreciation for life? I’d never be foolish enough to call it a ‘gift.’ Cancer is a rotten, evil, indiscriminate killer. Cancer does not leave gifts. But the human spirit does. It arises and strengthens in its fight. Maybe this is a gift of the human spirit. Something to think about I suppose.


    • I think the cancer experience helped me see time differently. I was always conscious about it due to my family history but I still thought time spanned before me in all directions and was something of a commodity. Now I think of it as a rare and precious gift to be savoured and cherished especially when it involves loved ones (who might also think of it as a commodity rather than something that will run out) and simple pleasures – making the most of the world around me.
      Strangely the knowledge that time is limited, potentially very constrained seems to make life go more smoothly. Few things ruffle me but many tiny things make me smile. It sounds odd but in some ways it’s like waking up from a very long sleep and seeing the world with new eyes.
      I don’t recommend cancer or any other critical illness as a means to gain this experience however it shows that some good can come from the most difficult and terrifying situations. I’m still here, still smiling and still loving every minute… and of course you’re right, normal is over-rated and I think I might not find it stimulating enough ;-). Thank you for inspiring me Maurice, you share knowledge and experiences that add more fuel to this happy spirit.


  3. “I’m not going to waste a second looking back. I’m almost incognito again:. For sure it will endure for a very long time. I am so happy for you. I appreciate the attitude you exbit towards life.
    Warm Hug,


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