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WHAT GOTCHA?

It was in the spring and I was out riding my bicycle when I needed to stop at a gas station and fill up one of my tires. The mechanics and a few friends were standing around having a cigarette and one of the guys asked me “What gotcha?”

Just to back up a little, after I had radiation for the cancer in my mouth, they operated a few months later and removed one side of my neck along with some muscles in the shoulder. My neck is somewhat normal on the one side but really doesn’t exist on the other side. It is quite noticeable and you find people staring at you all the time. I used to think they were staring at me because of my looks. Ha Ha! I guess those days are over. Back to the story;

I told him I had cancer and we had a great talk for a few minutes. I really like people like the garage guy. He was a straight shooter and didn’t try to sneak a glance when I wasn’t looking.

I have come to realize people with physical deformities whether minor or major are constantly subject to people staring at them. I wish people would just come up and ask me what happened. I in turn am doing that when I see someone with a visible scar. In all cases, they want to talk about what happened to them. They are not embarrassed or too sensitive to broach the issue. It’s like having an elephant living in your living room and nobody wants brings up the topic of the elephant.

I recently met a person who had a very visible scar across his face. We looked at each other and almost simultaneously asked each other what happened. We had an excellent conversation, and I felt like we were two warriors who had met after battle and were pleased just to be there able to talk about what was ahead.

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"What makes cancer so horrific is how it continues to torment and taunt its victims long after the treatments are finished"
– The Globe and Mail

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