Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Come on, come on, come on, come on
Now touch me, baby
Can’t you see that I am not afraid?
-- "Touch Me" by The Doors
In the last few weeks I've been reflecting on the number of people that hug me and touch me since my diagnosis and now in recovery. It isn't uncomfortable for me as I can be a huggy-touchy person. In my traditional Italian family, we still greet each other with hugs and kisses. I would hug everyone I meet that same way if it were appropriate.

The hugging really started with a co-worker with whom I am friends. Everyday when I was in treatment he would come to my office and hug me. I joke with him that he is the only man I know who could turn someone's cancer into his daily cheap thrill. Behind the joke lies appreciation for his true friendship and appreciation for the act of the hug itself. It was, and remains, important to me that he would even feel comfortable hugging me. So much of my own femininity became twisted in this cancer and to feel that exchange, though platonic, was significant for me.

Besides my family and friends, I have also found that with my professional colleagues I have moved beyond the traditional handshake greeting to the hug. Everyday I get hugs everywhere I go. I love it. I feel very lucky for this exchange. Think about how much better you feel after you get a sincere, body touching hug. Think about being a child and nothing making you feel better than a hug from your mother or father. It was safety, compassion, nuturing, caring, healing, and love all rolled into one. I don't think that changes because we age. Hugs are still all those things and more.

It is amazing how much power there is in a simple touch. Whether it be a hug, pat, embrace, kiss, or handshake, touching is an exchange of energy. I believe that this energy has healing powers. I don't think you realize how powerful touch is until you don't feel it. As a single person, I am at times caught off guard by the feel of an embrace if I have not had one for awhile. During treatment, even though I was surrounded by loving and supportive people all around me, a hug made me feel alive even though the treatment felt like it was killing me, literally.

And now when I see someone I know, they want to hug me and tell me how good I look. They really look at me and lock eyes and are so sincere. While I am appreciative, I always expect for it to come to end the further I am from treatment. I fear I will miss it whether it is appropriate business behavior or not. I am not starving for affection, but I love the energy people share in a hug.

I love the healing we do when we embrace one another. This exchange shouldn't wait until we "need it." It shouldn't be frowned upon for fear of sexual harrassment lawsuits. It is how we fill that gap between all the love in the world and all the people who need love.

It is how we heal one another.

"'Cause everytime you touch me I feel like I'm being born
Everytime you touch me I feel like I need some more"

--"Everytime you Touch me" by Moby
Written by Jeannette Vagnozzi
1 chimed in

Name: Jeannette
Location: Southern California, USA

This is my story about being diagnosed with breast cancer at age 39. I thought I was out of the woods, but four years late it came back. This is my quest to be a two-time survivor.

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