Life on the flight line in the military is a unique culture; its own unique space. You can’t get it until you live it every day.
Mention “pulling alert” to someone who has done it and you will hear story upon story about life on alert. Ask about “C.A.M.S.” then sit back and listen to the 500 different opinions that are coming your way. Be prepared for some outrageous stories after inquiring about those three magic letters: T… D...Y…!!! The uninitiated will look and listen in amazement and think the story tellers are full of shit (and some are). Those who’ve traveled with their airplanes to both the exotic and the unforgiving locations will shake their heads “Yes” in agreement and chime in with…
“Dude… I was TDY at location X with my airplane and….” Sit back and listen for the next ten minutes or so.
Just wait until the mechanics start reminiscing about the people they served with: supervisors, peers, subordinates, Chiefs, Commanders, etc.
That is the human experience of a unique culture!
Any group that is drawn together by something bigger than its members encounters similar experiences and emotions. Musicians, motorcycle clubs, athletes, stock traders, gamblers, construction workers, tech geeks, service clubs, gamers, etc are unique cultures. There's a language that grows as the group defines and explains something with short, concise phrases and or/abbreviations. Ever listen to gamers and tech geeks talk amongst themselves about the space they love to be in? You don’t get it, and you think they’re geeks and nerds. That is alright though. They think you are weird cuz you do not get it.
These examples do not reflect race, religion, gender, and all the other demographics that separate humans from each other. They exhibit traits unique to certain cultures: shared experiences of group members who are bound together by something bigger than themselves. There are written rules… then there are the cultural, unwritten rules that matter the most. They may even be contrary to the written rule.
Again… this is the human experience.
Cancer fits the attributes: bigger than those who are diagnosed with it, has its own language, only those who survive it or are in it fully get it, etc. It is a human experience (the cancer space) within the culture of cancer with an amount of suffering bigger than each person diagnosed with cancer.
I was diagnosed on June 4, 2019. My and Wendy were unaware, uninitiated, clueless, and inexperienced about the culture of cancer. Our stereotypes did not last long. I felt uninitiated and clueless until I started seeing my brothers and sisters in cancer. I see the seasoned ones… those who are in the ring with cancer for the second or third time. I see the real heavyweight contenders. Their treatment plans require them to board the good ship Chemo for a five day voyage. I thought one day was bad (and it is): but five days of those IV drip feeds and all the side effects that go with it? PASS!!!! I am such a lightweight (like a REAL weenie boy status here); I really have nothing to complain about compared to most others. It is a space that comes with all the weight classes of suffering. In the midst of all the suffering, Sock Swag found a new culture to play in.
I’ve posted about those who choose to be in the cancer space and remain immersed in this unique culture. More on them and Sock Swag now.
Those on the good ship Chemo were there to greet me & my Wendy and showed us the socks they were rocking. Bright colors and entertaining themes created a festive vibe. Smiles were big, laughs were hearty, and moods were lifted. This vibe filled the passenger deck as my brothers and sisters in cancer became curious about the buzz. That shit is contagious, right? It affected other staff members who investigated the outbreak of excitement. Guess what! The affected became the converted and were rocking the socks and smiles too. Nurses shared how much the vibe has elevated since mine and my Wendy’s last voyage. With the buzz growing, our attention turned to my sisters and brothers on the passenger deck.
I offered socks to each passenger. Some would ask, “Why are you giving out socks?”
“Cuz cancer sucks!”
They couldn’t argue that one, even though Sock Swag and cancer have nothing in common. Each would grab a pair and put them in their laps. One pair by one pair, the socks would migrate down the passenger's legs and to conceal the feet. I look around the passenger deck later on and see that all the feet are rocking some serious Swag!
Then something really cool happened while I was battle napping during the IV feed.
One of the nurses grabbed the basket of Swag and approached a sister who opted out during the first offering. The sister reached in and grabbed a pair of Trix socks with some encouragement from the nurse and the sister’s husband. I looked to my right (after my battle nap) to see Trix-sock-clad feet poking out from under my sister’s blanket!!!
Finally, I see the way coolest thing of the day. It put monster smiles on mine and my Wendy’s faces.
My Wendy and I hooked a sister and her son up with some Swag last week. She has multiple tumors… real heavyweight bout she is in. She picked some vivid blue socks with puffy white clouds before we left. Well… guess what was ambling across the passenger deck on this voyage?
Yep! Those blues skies and white clouds, and above the skies and clouds was a big smile of a lady that seemed as though she did not have a care in the world!!!
That is Sock Swag!
It is the human experience in a space that liberally dispenses suffering to people that are thrust into that space. Suffering is a big part of the culture of cancer. Like the flight line in the military, you will never understand this human experience until you unexpectedly get shoved into the deep end of the culture.
Sock Swag is that welcome diversion from the cultural norm. The physical suffering is not suspended, but the Swag offers the heart and mind a brief vacation from the physical. Focus is on the Swag, searching for that something that appeals, and then rocking the socks. It is a fun, silly little game in a culture that rarely sees such shenanigans as far as my Wendy and I can see.
We are new to this culture, being immersed in it for close to two months now. Sock Swag is new to our microcosm of the culture too. We do not think we are original at all. I’ve already heard a story or two from my brothers and sisters about different diversions, and have been repeatedly encouraged to keep this going cuz it makes a world of difference. It is the diversions, the mental and emotional vacations from the cultural norm, that make this human experience a fun adventure while dealing with the harsh realities of cancer.
You got a good story about a great diversion? I’d love to hear about it or read it. Even the stories are a great diversion, right?