When I was in high school there was a group that met regularly to share their thoughts and feelings about their Lord and personal savior, Jesus Christ. They came to school early and had Bible study in the library. The group was called Sharing and Caring.
I was not a member.
Generally speaking, I am not big on sharing, though I do occasionally care. Which is why I’m surprised that I spent several hours last night and most of today in a room full of cancer survivors who were sharing and caring.
I’ve signed up to be a volunteer through the local university’s cancer center. I’ll chat on the phone with someone who’s asked for support. Ideally, I’ll be matched with someone with my same disease. But during the hours I spent in the conference room with the other 15 or so volunteers, I came to realize that every group of strangers has a few common personalities. To wit:
- The Professor. They say the exact same sentence 3 times, only with different words. The next day, they say the exact same sentences again.
- The Crier. If you can’t mention the word cancer without choking up, you might need to volunteer at an art musuem or animal shelter.
- The Euphemist. Grandchildren are “dear angels.” People don’t die, they “pass.” People don’t have cancer, they have this “cruel, cruel disease.” And it’s not a colostomy bag, it’s “Winnie the Pooh.”
- The Anecdotalist. (That’s a real word, by the way.) Of course we want to hear one more story.
- The Expert. Somewhat like the Professor, only without the credentials.
And where was I? Doodling in my notebook. Wondering if anyone would notice if I took out my iTouch and played Scrabble.
Until the leader passed around the little basket full of folded up strips of paper. We all took one. I unfolded mine and looked at it.
“How did your cancer treatment affect your fertility and sex life.”
“Why don’t you go first?” the leader said. Looking straight at me.
“I got the sex question,” I said. Everyone in room guffawed. I could feel myself turning red. I mean, I’ll talk about a lot of stuff, but no way am I going into this–not in front of the professor, the crier, et al.
“Well,” I said…”Iwasreallytireddoihavetotalkanymoreaboutthis?”
More laughter. More redness.
We moved on to the next question. It was about insurance. I could’a knocked that one out of the park.
Evidently I shared and cared enough to complete the training though. I have the suitable-for-framing certificate to prove it.