Friday, November 6, 2009

Cancer Catchphrases

Here we are in November already, and somehow I managed to let another month slip by without managing to post nary a 1-line zinger or another rant and rave at Breast Cancer, Inc, or even another "Woe-is-me" type story. No excuses really - just finding it continually hard to collect my thoughts in a rational and logical manner, and more importantly in a form that is appropriate for a public forum such as this. Plus I like to inject a little comedic spirit into my writing, and sometimes, dammit, my funny just ain't there !

Anyway here I am now, so time to have a rant about something that's been on my mind lately. In the World of Breast Cancer (and maybe other types as well) you hear a lot of what I like to call "Cancer Catchphrases". I really need to take some kind of unscientific survey on how many times in a month I might hear some of my personal favorites.

DISCLAIMER: Now folks, I know people mean well when they utter these phrases, but when you've travelled the same road that I have for this length of time, you start to get a bit cynical. So apologies in advance if anyone is offended by my poking fun but if you'd been there you'd get it.

1. "My thoughts and prayers are with you"....Well what else does one say ? Hi ? Want to go out for lunch ? Got some really good gossip for you ? Yada, yada, yada.

2. "God only gives us what we can handle"....Thanks, but I would have preferred to handle a mansion on the beach, $10 million dollars in the bank and a completely carefree existence !

3. "Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you".....Sure. Do you think you could come over and clean my gutters, clip my dog's toenails, unblock the septic tank, and then cook me dinner ? How's Sunday for you ?

4. "Cancer can now be thought of like any other chronic disease".....Errrr okay, and it's raining Pink Elephants outside my window. See my earlier post for how I really feel about this one.

5. "Keep a positive attitude".....Mmmmm this is a tough one to mock but let me give it my best shot. It's a good thing, regardless of whether you have cancer, to maintain a sunny disposition, positive attitude and general zest for life. But unfortunately these things can't cure cancer. It's a physiological affliction and cancer doesn't care if you have a smile on your dial 365-days a year for 24 hours a day. If it did, you can be sure I'd be so juiced up on happy pills that the sun would shine from my proverbial you-know-what. I would be on Oprah talking about my best-selling book, "Stick it where the Sun Does Shine". People would pay millions to come and listen to me speak. Hell I would have my own talk-show, magazine and multi-billion dollar empire. Oprah would be calling me for advice. Okay enough of the fantasies. Of course I try to be positive. But sometimes it's hard. It's okay to have a blue day. It's not going to cause the cancer cells to multiply. It's perfectly normal.

6. "Cancer doesn't define you".......Okay. This one is my favorites for this month. I've been doing the rounds of various doctors and therapists and spending a lot of time gabbing about the stupid cancer. I hear this one ALL the time and I used to agree with it, but now I'm not so sure.

What does this really mean ?

Let's just take a routine day in my life right now. I get up and change the sheets due to the night sweats that I had the night before. I go and eat breakfast. Exactly 30-minutes after eating I take my chemo pills for the day. I wait around for at least another 30-minutes after that staying close to the bathroom in case of urgency's which can sometimes be a side-effect of the chemo. I take a shower, get out and look at my scars, and then put an SPF moisturizer on my skin because it cannot be exposed to sun for any length of time due to the chemo. I put another moisturizer on my hands and feet to try and keep "hand and foot syndrome" at bay, another chemo side effect. I blow dry my hair and wonder if all the hair that is falling out, is normal or whether it's the chemo again. I go to Pilate's to keep my surgically altered shoulder and back muscles limber, and keep my general fitness level up. I come home and have a lie down due to feeling a little nauseous and fatigued. I go through the mail and reconcile all the medical bills with the insurance claims. I pay the medical bills that the stupid insurance didn't cover. I ponder the pain in my right side and wonder if it's anything to be concerned about. I call my Doctor to schedule the next chemo appointment. I think about organizing a vacation around the next set of body scans and how to fit the chemo in. I sit down and eat dinner. Exactly 30-minutes after eating I take more chemo pills. I go and watch TV and zone out. I go to bed and take a sleeping tablet so I can sleep uninterrupted. I get up the next day and do it all over again.

Now I might be oversimplifying things a bit, and I've certainly left out the little things that can make a day great, but the fact is, a lot of my everyday life now is consumed with dealing with the stupid cancer. Cancer seems to be my job and I'm certainly a career girl. If I could resign from the job I would as it's certainly not the life I envisioned for myself. Is cancer who I am ? No I don't think so, but it sure does suck the life out of you and it's a struggle every day to remember who you were before the stupid cancer barged uninvited into your life.


  1. Stupid cancer! Great post. Matthew Zachary

  2. Thanks for your comment Matthew. I'm amazed I was able to cobble this post together due to stupid chemo brain from the stupid cancer..;)


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