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6 things you should never tell cancer patient

6 Things You Should Never Tell a Cancer Patient

6 things you should never tell cancer patientFive years ago, on June 1, 2012, I found out that, like one in eight women in America, I had breast cancer. Within a two-week period, one of our cats died, my husband lost his job, his aunt passed away and, while he was in Illinois attending her funeral, I got the news by phone.

It was caught early by an eagle-eyed radiologist who saw a small spot on my digital mammogram. Insurance companies often won’t cover this more sensitive test because it costs more. In January of 2016, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force raised the recommended age at which women should begin mammography screening from 40 to 50. (The medical community had opposed the change since it was first proposed in 2009.) Had I waited that long, I might be dead now.

I had a lumpectomy on July 3rd, followed by chemotherapy and radiation, which finished up at the end of January 2013. Five years later, I’m still cancer-free.

I bonded with several women going through the same thing. We’d pass our time in the waiting room joking about how none of us had lost weight from chemo despite what movies show, and how easy it is to forget where your eyebrows were after they fall out: Sometimes you draw them on and look angry or surprised, or angry on one side and surprised on the other.

We also talked about the comments well-meaning people said to us when they found out we had cancer. I related my friend’s story of how strangers touched her belly when she was pregnant, then got offended when she told them to stop. With cancer, too, people feel entitled to weigh in, assuming a level of familiarity that may not exist.

Here is my list, gleaned from my experience, of things you should never tell a cancer patient:

1. Everything happens for a reason. Yes, the reason is cancer. Is it because I paid the gas bill late or didn’t send a Christmas card? Think this through, please. Even if there is some cosmic plan, is that supposed to cheer me up? (“Your death will provide a valuable life lesson for your family.”)

2. [She] is fighting a battle with cancer. My chest is not a war zone. I prefer to say I’m having a slap fight with cancer. Sounds less ominous and it’s a nice visual, too. I’ve rarely heard anyone say, “She just gave up. What a wuss!”

3. Check out this email from Johns Hopkins about what really causes cancer. This is a hoax that’s been circulating since 2008. Johns Hopkins has repeatedly refuted it, but it still terrifies people. Whoever who wrote this should be flogged.

4. This [alternative therapy] really works. Ever meet someone who cured cancer by drinking his own pee? Probably not. Want to talk to Steve Jobs about the miracle macrobiotic cure he did for months before agreeing to conventional treatment? Oh, that’s right, you can’t: he’s dead.

5. Cheese causes cancer. I blame some Internet sub-genius for starting the Big-Dairy-doesn’t-want-you-to-know-this-is-killing-you panic about casein, what Alex Jones likes to call an excitotoxin. (Funny, that’s what I call him.) Casein is a protein found in mammalian milk, including human milk. So…breastfeeding causes cancer? Milk is murder?

I’m not saying I’m an expert. Having cancer doesn’t make you an expert any more than sitting on an airplane makes you a pilot. I understand that sickness scares people; it’s only human to want to define it and reassure themselves it won’t happen to them. Bullshit artists like Louise Hay have made a lot of money blaming people for their own illnesses. Which brings me to:

6. Negativity causes cancer. If that’s true, the person who says this must be riddled with it.

You know how they say a stranger is just a friend with an unsolicited opinion you haven’t heard yet? (Okay, nobody says that, but I’m trying to start a trend.) Everyone from my cat’s veterinarian to a city’s worth of taxi drivers felt compelled to share their wisdom. I wish I’d had the presence of mind to say, “Oh, this isn’t from chemo. I shaved my head to commemorate that time I killed someone for sticking his nose in my business.”

Sometimes a little negativity can be fun, no?

Related posts:
I’m Radioactive – Laughing at Cancer
Tales from the Waiting Room – Laughing at Cancer

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Good News Really Laughing at Cancer

Good News. Really.

Good News Really Laughing at CancerA couple weeks ago, I got the news that, like one in eight women in America, I have breast cancer. Thanks to digital mammography and excellent doctors, I’m going to be fine. You’re not going to get rid of me that easily.

Considering my posts about vaginas and fart filters, it’s strange that I find this difficult to discuss. Writing about a breast shouldn’t make me feel shy. In this case, though, I am the owner of the body part that’s gone on the fritz. I have a titanium clip in there, soon to be joined by a radioactive seed for precise tumor location. I’ve dubbed it Robo-boob.

I wasn’t going to address this at all since I write an allegedly humorous blog and this tends to be pretty dramatic stuff. But here goes. I’m going to have a lumpectomy on July 3rd. (Thieves be warned. My house is staffed with attack cats.) If the excision has clear margins, meaning the entire growth has been removed, I will begin radiation a month later.

I’m not very worried about the surgery. I’ll be having “twilight sleep”–the good stuff that Michael Jackson favored. I have been assured that, unlike Michael, I will continue breathing on my own. The idea of radiation is scarier to me. Luckily, it’s not the kind that will turn me into Godzilla, the Hulk or a giant spider. Phew.

Unfortunately, my insurance won’t cover a scooter. No handicapped parking either. I did get a binder from Mt. Sinai Hospital to keep track of appointments, post-op instructions etc. But I saw some women walking around with reusable grocery bags emblazoned with the pink ribbon on them, so I’m hoping for more swag. Gotta find a silver lining to this thing.

I know that prayer is a comfort to people and makes them feel less powerless. But when someone says, “I’m praying for you,” what I hear is, “You are so screwed that only a deity you don’t believe in can save you now.” As far as I’m concerned, everyone except my surgeon is helpless in this situation. There will no Tebowing in the OR, let’s put it that way–at least while I’m awake.

A proliferation of cancerous cells will not result in a conversion experience for me. That seems like a faulty basis on which to start (or stop) believing. So, while I love my Christian friends for caring, I respectfully ask them to understand it does not make me feel better to hear about it and to please keep it to themselves. Surely I can’t be the first person to feel this way?

I’d like to address a few popular sayings/beliefs trotted out regarding cancer.

Everything happens for a reason. Yes, the reason is cancer. Is it because I paid the gas bill late or didn’t send a Christmas card?

[She] is fighting a battle with cancer. My chest is not a war zone. I prefer to say I’m having a slap fight with cancer. Sounds less ominous and it’s a nice visual, too.

Here’s an email from Johns Hopkins about breast cancer. It’s a hoax that’s been circulating since 2008. The person who wrote this should be flogged.

This [alternative therapy] really works. Ever meet someone who cured cancer by drinking his own pee? Probably not. Want to talk to Steve Jobs about the miracle macrobiotic cure he did for months before agreeing to conventional treatment? Oh, that’s right, you can’t: he’s dead.

I should point out that I am not saying I’m an expert. Having cancer doesn’t make you an expert any more than having your driver’s license makes you a Formula One racer. But I don’t think I’m so unique that no one else has had these thoughts. Bullshit artists like Louise Hay have made a lot of money getting people to think they have all the answers, which brings me to my final thought for those who would easily pass judgment on someone like me:

Negativity causes cancer. If you believe that, why don’t you have cancer, too?

Related posts:
I’m Radioactive – Laughing at Cancer
Tales from the Waiting Room – Laughing at Cancer

Copyright Notice 2018 Magick Sandwich

Magick Sandwich

More Louise Hay Garbage

I admit that I’ve whored around the Self-Help section of life’s cosmic bookstore, looking for answers. But since perfectionism can lead to procrastination, I stopped. Serial killers tend to have high self-esteem, too, but I found that out in the Psychology section, Self-Help’s educated relative a few shelves down.

But there’s one old mindfuck that keeps coming back and chafing my brain like a mental herpes sore. Her name is Louise Hay. I bought her book, You Can Heal Your Life, in the late 1980’s. (Hey, the Eighties were a bad time for a lot of us- don’t judge me.) Among other things, she said that we choose our parents before we’re born. Don’t consider the logistics of that for too long or your head may explode. We also mentally cause all of our own physical problems and can cure them with a little affirmation. My cat puked on the book cover. Was he trying to tell me something? In Louise Hay’s universe, maybe. I loathed that book. It sold millions.

Now I see that she has published many books since then. From the look of her website photo, she invested my $12.99 in bad plastic surgery. Affirmations can’t cure that any more than she can wish back her shit-canned facial skin. Since I won’t be contributing to the sales of her newer book, I thought it would be fair to share some thoughts from her first one. (I ripped off the cover and kept it. God, I miss that puke stain.) Here are a few of Louise Hay’s diagnoses for mental causes of physical problems.

Warts: “Little expressions of hate. Belief in ugliness.”
Tinnitus: “Refusal to listen.Not hearing the inner voice. Stubbornness.”
Multiple Sclerosis: “Mental hardness, hard-heartedness, iron will, inflexibility. Fear.”
Ingrown Toenail: “Worry and guilt about your right to move forward.”
Tapeworm: “Strong belief in being a victim and unclean. Helpless to the seeming attitudes of others.”

Of course, I don’t want to spoil the ending for you by writing down Ms. Hay’s cures. But I must make one exception. If you or anyone you know is currently suffering from gangrene (“Mental morbidity. Drowning of joy with poisonous thoughts”) apply this information immediately: I now choose harmonious thoughts and let the joy flow freely through me. Repeat this new thought pattern to yourself several times. Assume that you are already in the process of healing.

Please, Ms. Hay, forgive me for using your sacred text! I feel it is my duty to pass on your healing message! Sufferers must be free from the bondage of Western medicine and learn that they have only themselves to blame! They must think, think, think their way to health. (Oh, and they must buy your books, too. But Ms. Hay, since you gave us all the tools in the first one, why did you need to write another? Have you been holding out on us?)

Please remember, dear reader, if the snake oil you’re drinking tastes bitter, maybe you’re just not drinking the right brand!

N.B. I’m working on a project of my own: If We All Concentrate, We Can Give This Charlatan Bitch Cancer.

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