The sincerity of clubs or groups affords individuals the ability to form tight unions and generate relationships, which provide a sense of belonging and community. Personally, I was at no time a “club” schoolgirl. In high school, I guffawed at the consideration of being a part of such a thing. To better understand my thought process behind that, you’d have to be aware of my sixteen-year-old self; full of angst, with an irresolute sense of ego especially when it came to conformity.
Commencing high school with that notion, I set a tone for my high school years. The supposed “best years of my life”. I had my friends, a quality over quantity type of group. We didn’t need much, found endless ways to entertain ourselves and rarely involved ourselves with outside school activities, including those popular Friday night football games. As a Junior, I moved with my family to a small town in Wisconsin, called Baraboo, where the Ringling Circus originated. Needless to say, you might think that being the new kid on the block would have drove me in the direction of joining and participating in the various clubs that the school offered. Conversely, my attraction to do such a thing was desolate, even though it was highly encouraged by my parents, as well as school counselor in an effort to meet people and make new friends.
At this point in my life I preferred staying in my new bedroom, listening to music and reminiscing about the “old days” and mostly my old life. This being a smaller school, my peers had known each other for their whole lives, but were also active participants in a myriad of clubs for the purpose of bettering their skills for college applications, or perhaps solely aiming for improved interpersonal dynamics. I just didn’t get it. Period. As luck would have, after an insignificant amount of time living in the town that was everything contrasting to my home in Phoenix, I was able to make a few legitimate friends; once again offering quality over quantity.
Since I have become a professional sick person, I have often heard the terms, “welcome to the club” or “now you are a part of the cancer club”. My assumptions were that the people with whom were pre-existing members of this so-called “club” probably never wanted to join it, much like myself with the clubs that I avoided like the plague during my primitive high school career. Hastily, millions alike have been lunged into this club with the only membership pre-requisite being that you must have cancer, or have had cancer. What a trade off, eh?
The thought-provoking thing is that when you receive the dreaded news that you have the Big C, you are instantaneously part of the club, the “Cancer Club”. Certainly one would think of this as the opposite of a privilege, as to be a part of the club, you have to experience the devastation of having gone through cancer, either past or present. Since being a cancer patient, I have found that diagnosis can be a very isolating expedition and although you may have an army of loved ones behind you; you are fighting the front lines and leading the troops into combat on your own.
In high school, students typically surge together for the sake of common interest and form a club derived off of that, as well as to gain a sense of commonality and kinship amongst their peers. In the cancer realm, the cancer club population is by the millions and is made up of all sorts of people, diverse on every spectrum, with the one common denominator being cancer. Clearly, it’s not your average Glee Club. Unquestionably, you don’t find patients singing from the rooftops in a sprightly jingle that they have been diagnosed with this unpleasant, unwanted and undesirable thing called cancer. However, once you are sprang into what is your relationship with cancer, you soon realize that despite your disinterest in being a club member in your past, you have never been more proud to be a part of something in your life. Sure, it’s not like I would have voluntarily signed up to be a part of this club, I wouldn’t even sign up for the badminton club in school for goodness sake, but here I am, officially a part of a club. Who would have thought?
The way I look at it, I am now an elite member and peer to some of the strongest people that roam this planet. Cancer patients undoubtedly comprehend what it means to fight for your life and live for the moment. As a member of this club, we all recognize what it is like to have your life interrupted by an uninvited guest, but forge together as an alliance and charge the battlegrounds in force, to wage war on this enemy. See, when you are a part of this club, you don’t have to “see” your fellow soldiers, you just know they are there. It’s as if you are standing in the middle of a circle, with linked hands all around you; it may not be visibly seen, but they’re there.
Gracefully, I have had some of those said club members reach out to me directly, some that I have known for years, others with whom we had someone in common and even complete and utter strangers. Being a part of this club means paying it forward, being there for your fellow cancer mates, sharing your story and lending an ear for their story. So, my socket in this rant about clubs is that you may find yourself doing everything in your power to disassociate yourself from communities, or clubs, much like myself in high school, but one day you may find yourself on an alternative path, which involuntarily places you in a membership. Mine just so happens to be the cancer membership, as a part of the Cancer Club. I may not have an official badge, but my comrades are enough for me to realize that there is no other club that I would be more proud to be a part of.