not quite belonging in the group…

Yesterday morning I went to a Cancer Council (Australia) session called Living Well After Cancer. It was nice to meet other women and men, survivors and carers, who had come through the experience. A big hello to Sharon who has her own blog dailyrant. And a big thanks to Marie from Breastcancer Twitterchat who made me aware of this program (during a #hcsmanz Twitter chat).

As usual though, amongst those attending who had experienced breast cancer, there were mostly older women over 50, a couple of younger women in their 20’s and me on my own as a women in her 40’s.

I find this a lot in the breastcancer “real world” as well as in the online community. Women, like me, in their 40’s, are stuck in the middle. Even the research studies tend to be looking at either “post-menopausal women over 50” (not me) or “young women under 40” (not me either). Very disheartening when the research community also seems hard-pressed to figure out where I fit!

In these situations I usually relate and align myself more with the younger group of women as we seem to have similar challenges with trying to get through, and carry on from this experience.

This was true again yesterday. While the older group of women related that it was good to be able to wake up in the morning and choose to have a doona day (doona = quilt); in contrast, the younger group of women were relating the struggle with having to get up and go to work when you’d rather have a doona day.

I still don’t absolutely “fit” with the younger women though…

I’m not coping with these scars and drugs that affect my (cover your eyes now if you are sensitive) body image and sexual being while still single. I have a wonderful and amazingly supportive husband. I didn’t have to think about banking eggs before I started chemotherapy last year and I don’t have to live with knowing I may never have a loving permanent relationship or children

NOTE: I’m happy to lend my kids out to anyone who thinks they want some.

It was an emotional morning for me. Seeing our common challenges written on a whiteboard brought tears to my eyes on several occasions. And, while it was good to find others with whom I’ve had a shared experience, it was also sad to find us all struggling with the same issues and to find yet again that I just didn’t seem to quite “fit”.

PS: It’s Sunday today. I’m having a doona morning!

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9 thoughts on “not quite belonging in the group…

  1. The Savvy Sister

    I think you’ll find that no one really “fits” when you have cancer. You will find others that share the same struggles and it’s so nice when you can meet them face to face and share ideas and solutions. You’re smart to be reaching out as connections in themselves help you to heal.
    Hugs to you

    Reply
  2. Marie Ennis-O'Connor (@JBBC)

    Ooh I am just so stoked that you have joined this group and found it through my recommendation – isn’t the internet amazing! I loved what The Savvy Sister has to say about not fitting in – she makes a great point. If you get a chance Jenn, you might like to read my blog on the hierarchy of cancer survivors – it touches on many of the points you have made here.

    Reply
    1. jennt28 Post author

      Hi Marie,
      The group is actually just a “one off” session unfortunately. The cancer centre that I attended at does have two ongoing support groups but one was obviously for the older women (daytime only) and the other was stated as one for women under 40yrs (again daytime only). I will continue to get my support from the wonderful groups I have become involved with on breastcancer.org over the past year…

      Reply
  3. Pingback: Weekly Round-Up | Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer

  4. nancyspoint

    Oh, I love this post and have been thinking about writing something similar myself. I go to two support groups and I don’t seem to fit in at either one. Still, I feel this need to keep going back. I’m trying to figure out why this is. Thank you so much for writing this!

    Reply
    1. jennt28 Post author

      Hey Nancy,
      I think we all crave face-to-face time with others that have experienced the same thing we have. I also think that as humans we prefer to align ourselves with others that are similar to ourselves in beliefs, age, culture. Breast cancer hits across the board though and if we try and limit ourselves to mingling with others only with those shared traits in common we will constantly find ourselves disappointed. My main source of support during my experience was online at breastcancer.org. There are so many women (and men) there that it was quite easy to find specific groups to interact with people in situations similar to my own.

      Reply
  5. shinecancersupport

    Hi jenn, I found you through Marie’s round up blog and I’m glad I did.
    This is a really interesting post…
    I started a support network for younger adults with cancer when I couldn’t find anyone near my own age dealing with cancer.
    I was 29 and it was breast cancer, but we decided to make shine a place for anyone 20-50ish with any type of cancer diagnosis …. We figured that it was hard enough to find people our own age with breast cancer so what must it be like for people with rarer cancers ? As we don’t do the standard support group format of speakers etc we are able to include all cancer types and we have found that the issues faced are similar whatever type of cancer you have.
    There is a range of lifestyles within our age group, singles at uni to married with grand kids and everything in between but we have found people can still support each other and these differences are not marked by being over 40 or under 30! They are marked by everyone being individual.
    We are in the uk but do have a Facebook group if you’d like to connect xx
    And let’s hope that our plans to expand across the UK work and we can start taking over the world! Lol xx
    Take care and I look forward to reading more now that I’ve found your blog!
    Emma x
    http://Www.shinecancersupport.co.uk

    Reply

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