Thursday, July 16, 2009

Updating your status

I always find it interesting that A still tells people that he is an Airline Pilot when he is introduced to them. And he leaves off the part that goes- "who has been on disability for 18 months due to cancer". I always wonder if it's a coping mechanism, an attempt to deny the reality of what's going on, if he's embarrassed of having cancer or something else. Even though what A tells people is completely up to him, I always feel like he's not telling the whole truth to people and he should. Since he's so into social media lately, I told him it was time to update his status from "airline pilot" to "pilot by trade but currently disabled".

We recently had dinner with a physician friend who has had a relapse of brain cancer. Although his course of treatment makes it much more obvious that he has an illness (the shaved head featuring a surgery scar and bald spot from radiation) he said that he does the same thing. Both A and our friend concurred that part of the reason was because they didn't want the sympathy that is generally (ingenuinely) offered once cancer is mentioned. Partly because they didn't want to be treated differently, as sickly, and partly because they want to pretend it isn't happening. It was an interesting A-ha moment to hear that our friend felt the same way and that it wasn't just A's particular personality.

And after 18 months of whining, asking around and pestering I've finally found a cancer support group. I flipped open one of those local "news and opinion weeklies" and found right there a listing for a support group, not just for cancer, but thyroid cancer specific, that meets at a local library. And it is so apropos that I found it two weeks before we are due to leave town.


Anonymous said...

I totally understand your feelings, and it's really fab that you've sought out a support group... It's a shame that you're moving soon.

Still, I think I'd probably be cool with Bf 'denying' the cancer thing if it was me. I think it's great not to define yourself by an illness, even if you have been disabled by it for a significant period...

He is an airline pilot, if he was furloughed for 18 months, would you expect him to say I'm an airline pilot, BUT I'm furloughed? Maybe it helps his morale not to label himself or make the illness his identity...

The power of positive thinking is immense!

Flying High said...

Hello there lovely.

I see what you mean, but when I think back to my husband losing his job, he was still an "airline pilot", just not one in work. I still feel like I belong to my current profession, even though I'm not working at the moment. Perhaps it helps him to still think of himself as his profession, whilst he's fighting cancer? I know it would help me.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I can't believe I found your blog. Was posting on the "Wives & girlfriends of pilots" Facebook group page when I decided to poke around through the blogs listed there. I too am married to a grounded pilot because of cancer. Lymphoma to be exact. He was diagnosed in Feb. 2008. Also about 18 months ago. He is cancer-free now. We're just waiting on the FAA to clear him to go back to work. And then, there's always the chance he soon won't have a job to go back to as his airline (Frontier) is about to be bought by Southwest.

I still identify my husband as an airline pilot as does he, because that's what he is, despite the cancer. I agree with partnerofapilot, if he were furloughed, we would do the same. I think it's hard for men to identify themselves as anything other than their career.

Hang in there. I'll be checking in on you more often now that I've found you!