Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Secret's Out!

I'm a glutton and sucker for flattery! I really, really, can I say "really" enough?, hate to admit it, but a little flattery goes a long ways with me! I just posted here yesterday and someone just had to say something nice! So, here I go again.  (Note to my friend anonymous: don't pull that stunt again! God didn't give me but so many thoughts to share!)

The Melanoma Research Foundation posted a blog this past Friday about how melanoma can isolate. While it turns out to actually be about ocular melanoma (yes, there is such a deadly beast), there's a paragraph in it that everyone can relate to on some level:

"Even the treatments make melanoma patients different.  Chemotherapy has limited impact on this cancer, so some of the classic signs of cancer treatment bypass melanoma patients.  They don’t lose their hair, look pale, walk the hospital halls with IV bag in tow.  It is not unusual for melanoma patients to look perfectly healthy.  Sometimes the appearance matches reality.  I have known Stage IV patients who felt fine, even as they moved closer to succumbing to their disease.  Sometimes the side effects of treatment are less apparent.  Living with flu like symptoms for a year is a horrible experience, but is not something that is readily apparent the treatments make melanoma"

I've been thinking about that in a more general way. Every single one of us is not who everyone else sees! Think about that. When people look at you, you know what they visibly see about you. They can see your hair color (whether it's real or not may be another story). They can get a sense of either your fashion sense or your clothes budget. One look at me, and people can readily tell I have neither.

But they cannot see who you are on the inside. They don't know your dreams, fears, joys, baggage or delectable groceries. They don't know what your mind feasts on or what garbage slips in there.

People have never looked at me and instantly thought, "she must be a cheerleader!" God didn't make me petite and cute. He certainly didn't make me gymnastically inclined. Ask my parents and they'll happily tell you that He didn't endow me with a perky teenage personality either! Outwardly I wasn't a cheerleader, but inwardly I sure was! Man, how I wanted to be cute, perky, agile, petite, and out on that gym floor leading cheers! Nobody though, could look at me and know that.

Oh no! What people looked at and saw was a tall girl who "was" a "natural" for basketball! I was 5'9" when I started high school in 1973 and that was tall back in the day for a girl. My first day of high school, ninth grade, I walked in the room to register for classes and get my schedule straight and who should be sitting at the table doing that BUT the woman who, it turns out, was the girls' PE teacher and basketball coach! I could literally see her drooling when she saw me! She even told me, without knowing me, at that moment, that she expected me to be on her team! I tried, stumbled the words in shock is more accurate, to tell her I didn't play basketball...but all she saw was height and that equaled skill....

Until...she took note in PE that I was the one who always had to stay after class until I could make that one dreadful, dreaded lay up shot! Her anticipated "star" player was the one always picked last for any PE class team, and the team captain always took me with that horrible "you mean I've got to take her?" look in her eyes and everyone instantly felt sorry for the team I was on but relief that I wasn't on their team. All PE classes have that person. I was mine. I knew in my heart and soul I was no basketball player! In my heart and soul I was a cheerleader!

And I still am! Thanks be to God, today I'm a real cheerleader! And I'm perky, too! Annoyingly so! Just ask my college kid! I'm a 52 year old, compression sleeve and glove wearing, melanoma patient of a cheerleader who still can't do a cartwheel anywhere but in my imagination...and that's OK!

I guess two secrets are out. Oh well, I yam who I yam.

And I am grateful...and I'm grateful you are who you are, too!