Actually I have been ‘Hit by a Bus’ #Leukaemia

As many cancer fighters, survivors and people fighting other life threatening illnesses will know some comments, phrases or misguided efforts at making you feel better actually have the opposite effect.  Some now aren’t really applicable anymore, this is yet another ‘after effect’ of cancer…finding phrases and sayings either really resonate, make you want to scream or laugh at the irony.

One of these comments is the popular ‘any of us could get hit by a bus tomorrow’ … While I really appreciate that this is meant in the most supportive and compassionate way it actually doesn’t help and often leaves me feeling more alone. Before I wrote this I did speak to my fellow cancer friends about it to get a feel for whether or not I was being oversensitive.  You see its actually not applicable to us now as we have been hit by that proverbial bus!  There are other comments that are also unhelpful but I will write about them in a different post.
Someone used this phrase the other day and as I watched her walk away all I can think was…’don’t you see I have been hit by that bus…don’t you get it…it’s alright for you because you are walking around thinking it will never happen to you…like I used to too.  You have no idea that what you just said makes me want to scream ‘It’s not applicable to me anymore…can’t you see I have been hit!’

Whenever you cross a road do you not look and make your own decision on whether or not it is safe to cross?  Did I make the choice to develop cancer?  When you are going about your daily lives you a certain amount of control over your own safety…when crossing a road, standing at a bus stop or driving your car.  You can take extra care, look twice or avoid trouble spots.  I was in London the other day with friends and when it came to crossing a road funnily enough a bus came speeding along so we stepped back and I actually put my hand on my friends arm to make sure she was out of harms way…it’s a natural instinct.

But when it comes to the ‘cancer bus’ no amount of being careful or a friends hand on my arm would have changed a thing.  I had no control over what my own body did to me, how it turned against me, my own bone marrow.  BONE MARROW FAILURE, yes 90% of it was not functioning and without healthy blood cells your body fails, yours organs fail…life fails.  Not only that but these dangerous cancer cells were dispersed around my body via my bloodstream, normally a vital but, potentially spreading the cancer all over my body, using each and every vein to infect you.

Also this ‘bus’ is likely to come and hit me again…how many times have you heard of someone being hit by a bus twice?  I live in fear of being hit again and am constantly looking over my shoulder waiting for its impact.

When offering words of comfort to someone whose been diagnosed by cancer perhaps think carefully before saying ‘Of course any of us could be hit by a bus at any time.’  Don’t try to generalise it, to make it sound like it doesn’t matter, it was inevitable anyway and that being so makes it ok that you’ve been hit by a life threatening, life changing disease.

So where did this phrase come from anyway?? Here’s what I found out;

A generic rather than literal example of misfortune, verbal shorthand to indicate that none of us know our future, that a catastrophe is merely an involuntary act of fate.  Casually used to refer to an unexpected death, illness, debilitating injury yet without making it seem grim.

According to Wikipedia it was first used in the novel ‘The Secret Agent’ by Joseph Conrad; “But just try to understand that it was a pure accident; as much as if he had been run over by a bus while crossing the street.”

This term is also used a lot in business management meaning that there must always be a contingency plan in case someone in the team is taken ill, leaves, etc unexpectedly.  And the definition from the newly popular Urban Dictionary is ‘Used instead of the word Stupid’ For example; ‘OMG this mobile is so getting hit by a bus.’ when said mobile isn’t working properly.

Thanks for taking time out of your day to read this…love Butterfly 

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