Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Melanoma With Attirude

"attirude of gratitude melanoma" is a recent search term that led Google to send some unsuspecting person to this blog. "Attirude?" Me? Really?

Actually, I love this word and I hope Websters will take all appropriate measures to officially add it to the dictionary so the world, at large, will have access to it. And, yes, I realize someone really typed a typo, and while I normally have zero-tolerance for "published" typos, I'm going to look at this one theologically, because I can, and determine God has a bigger purpose to serve through this person out there somewhere. And as a person with melanoma, I think God is using this person to help us out with our vocabulary and provide us with a much needed and accurate word. Because we can, indeed, have attirude!

Here's an actual example of what attirude looks like from a recent Facebook conversation between two mutual friends. The context of this conversation is that Poor Thing has constant troubles with her insurance company paying her claims. "Ahem Insurance" says she's not covered; employer says she is and every time she has an appointment of any kind, or scans, that litany is repeated and Poor Thing is getting frustrated. She had just experienced another round of this garbage and Good Friend comes to the rescue. As best as I can recall the actual wording went like this:

Good Friend posts on Poor Thing's wall: "I woke up this morning feeling crappy and if a friend wanted me to call an insurance company I would."

And she meant it, too. All Poor Thing had to do was say, "Sic 'em!" It would have been a "have mercy" moment for that insurance company if she had!

(For the record, Poor Thing is so far removed from being a real Poor Thing it isn't funny! She's one of the strongest young women I have the privilege of calling "friend." Just like we have our attirude moments we also have our vulnerable and highly frustrate-able moments).

In the melanoma community we understand this emotion and we've all had our episodes. They are no fun and nothing to laugh at but we may as well laugh as cry. Right? It happens. We have attirude and heaven help the person who crosses us on those days! In case you missed it, I blogged about my own most notable episode. Those of us with attirude have our own self-proclaimed Poster Child.

All we need is a secret handshake and secret password.

What we really need is understanding. Melanoma is a beyond difficult disease to live with and no matter which stage we are at diagnosis, we live with a disease that we know can reach out and bite us at any moment. And often does. It has a well-documented history. What we don't live with in body we live with in mind. It's not uncommon for attirude to rear its head as appointments approach. Or when it's time to get results. Or when it feels like it. Sometimes we know we've got attirude and sometimes it comes out of thin air and surprises us and everyone around us.

I know we all have to cope with something and we all have our stresses. Melanoma pushes those boundaries until they burst wide open and flood our souls.

Note for the benefit of anyone reading this who does not have melanoma: Never, ever compare melanoma to an everyday pain of life. OK? That displays ignorance and a level of non-compassion that's unreal to us. If the best you can do is tell us "we all have problems" then please stay quiet. That's something best left unsaid.

If you ignore that warning then be prepared for a display of attirude. You just might get it.

Better yet, try to get an idea of what we live with. Read this article Newly Diagnosed?. Read a recent blog post Come Over To The Dark Side...Of Melanoma. Search this blog site for "melanoma."

With the statistics of melanoma being what they are, if you don't have melanoma or another type of cancer yet, hang on. The day just might come when you understand attirude from a more personal vantage point.

And while that's nothing to be grateful for, I will say that you'll receive far more understanding from us than maybe you've shown.

To those of you reading this who know exactly what I'm talking about...

I am truly and humbly grateful for your presence in my life.

After this post I blogged about attirude three more times. In order they are: