I don’t look sick. This brings about lots of assumptions about me.
Without knowing me well and just by looking at me, you wouldn’t know that I have short hair because it fell out from chemo. And that because of that chemo and the ongoing treatment I have now I often feel tired and out of energy.
You wouldn’t know that I have a tumour the size of a large mango in my abdomen.
You wouldn’t know that I’m missing my large bowel that means I don’t absorb all the nutrients and fluid that would be useful to have.
You wouldn’t know that I really need that seat on the train, but I’ll make do with leaning on the stair walls.
You wouldn’t know all of this because in order to not be defined by my illness I try really hard to maintain normality and keep going and pushing myself.
My problem is that I can’t have it both ways. I don’t want to look sick, yet there’s times where I really wish I stood out enough in the simple situation of being on public transport in peak hour. I could easily ask someone and explain why I would need that seat, but I don’t want to make a fuss and there’s also the chance that I would seem like I’m making it up.
It was the same when I was recovering from my bowel surgery, and at that time I was MUCH weaker and every step I took was like I had gone for a run.
Looks can really be deceiving. I thought I looked pretty sick then, I had lost a significant amount of weight, but I still looked ok enough not to be too obvious most likely because I was obviously a young woman and could easily just be that skinny naturally.
I remember in the weeks after my surgery when I could finally move around a bit more I would shuffle at snail speed to cross the road and cars wouldn’t slow down for me. It just made me laugh because on the inside I felt like a 90-year-old grandma.
In all of this there is relief on the weekends when the trains are less busy, and I get happy over a train seat for my whole journey (sad, I know).