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  • Writer's pictureMia Rose

Playing the Cards You're Dealt

I was talking with a gal the other day about someone she knew knee deep in her cancer battle. Like, still in the hospital getting treatment deep. I was trying to lend a listening ear and learn from her struggle as the friend of someone with cancer. I can't even imagine how difficult it has been for those around me to be along for this crazy ride, so I was trying to see if I could gain some perspective. She was obviously concerned about her friend and hopeful things will turn out ok, but she also expressed some frustration. Frustrated that her friend's emotions were often all over the place and how unfair it was that she would sometimes use the "cancer card". Ok, was she talking about me?!?! Haha..I truly know she wasn't but it felt kind of personal! I went on to explain to her some of what the friend might be feeling and gave an example from my own experience where I, too, used the "cancer card". She told me I shouldn't do that. The horror!!!!!! haha! I went home and thought so much about this! I couldn't shake it! I know this nice gal wasn't trying to offend me or belittle my experiences, but crap! I don't think she realizes how fucking heavy it is holding this card in my deck!!! I slept on it...drove to Sioux Falls for a doctor's appointment (a hem cancer appointment) and sat down at my beloved Josiah's with a skinny, sugar free, dairy free latte and avocado toast...freakin' heaven. Here's what I've come up with:

We are all dealt a hand of cards. Some cards complete Aces, some utterly useless. Some happen to be the "Old Maid". Remember that game? For you youngsters that have no idea what I'm talking about, having the Old Maid card in your hand was a deal breaker. If you ended the game with her as your last card, you lost. Boo. When I was a kid we played it all the time with my grandma. Sometimes me, my brother and sister would play it so cool and when we got the Old Maid, we'd tuck her in our hand of cards and just wait for her to get picked up by someone else. Other times, we'd draw the Old Maid and have a mini melt down. The "ugh! not again!!" was a clear giveaway that you had the card that no one else wanted. My Cancer Card is a lot like that Old Maid. Sometimes I can tuck it underneath all my other cards and not even give it the time of day. I can move on, go about my business and go live. Other times, that card is so heavy and annoying and hard to carry that I might have to have my mini melt down and throw her wildly in the air. I think that is ok. It doesn't have to be just a Cancer's the card you don't want. Maybe yours is about financial troubles you're having or relationship issues or problems with your job. Whatever it is, sometimes when you have to say "I can't handle this today because my damn Old Maid is just too much to handle!". That is ok. Chances are, if you're willing to "play your card", you are at a point that you are needing to deal with something related to it. I've had times I've used the Cancer Card out of desperation, fear or just feeling so low I needed a hot minute. I've also used it because I've been so over the moon happy that I needed to celebrate that I'm still here despite dealing with a shitty hand! Whatever the situation, when that card needs to be used, it's usually for good reason. As friends, family and just decent human beings, I think when someone plays their card we need to realize it's a call for help or even a call for understanding. Be there...acknowledge....take note. Just don't say "you can't use your card anymore". If you believe that, then thankfully you've never had a shitty hand, but trust me, when you do pull that Old will need the support and understanding of others to help get you through it. Moral of the story, yes we need to move on and not dwell on the setbacks life throws at us, BUT personal growth is just that. Personal. Really heavy stuff doesn't go away overnight and it's ok to have a bad moment here or there as you are healing and growing. Use that Old Maid when you need to, but tuck it back away when you're done. -M

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