Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Cancer rant

I firmly believe everyone needs to expend some anger on occasion. And today's my day. Not because I'm in a bad mood but because I just wrote an article addressing "how to greet a cancer patient" for Ehow. It ticked me off for a number of reasons. Let's begin with common sense.

It should be common sense that cancer patients need an extremely clean environment. It's a given, right? So why do we need to remind everyone? Is it because everyone is so self-absorbed? I think so.

After 8 continual months of treatment, I AM NOT okay right now. I don't feel well, I'm tired, I have bone pain, I hate my lack of hair - in short, I feel like crap. It's better than last week but it by no means is good. I'm disgusted with all this and the seemingly never-ending feeling of being sucked into a quagmire. It's gotten REAL old at this point.

Every time I think of cancer cliches, I see red. The dumb things people say just never ends. This isn't because it's happened to me lately. It's just principal. Why should we have to rant against the stupid things people say to us as cancer patients? Aren't we going through enough already? The excuse of "they just don't know any better or even what to say" is just that - an excuse. Get a grip. Next time someone tells me something, I'm going off. Be warned.

Forrest Gump's Mom had it right - stupid is as stupid does. This is taking up a full chapter in my book.

I watched Steffie crush multiple boxes so I could get the recycling together yesterday. We had a mound of boxes because we missed last weeks pickup. What I really imagined was her crushing hundreds of pink ribbon lapel pins and frou-frou pink BS that drives me crazy. Bonfire, here I come.

Hello? Where did everyone go? I'm not okay. Repeat after me - I'm not okay. Everyone who cares for someone who has cancer needs to get a fricking grip and realize the fun and games don't end when treatment finishes. The hell just begins and a helping hand would be greatly appreciated. Fatigue sets in with a vengeance, motivation and self-esteem crashes. Recovery seems like an endless abyss after going through the hell of 8 months of surgey and treatment. And guess what? You have to live with the fact that you didn't help, you were too busy, you were afraid to address your own fear of cancer. YOU. Can you deal with it?

Don't lie to me. I know I look like a cancer patient. I just finished treatment, for God's sake! Remember my beautiful long hair? It was long for a reason - because I looked good that way. I don't look good with short hair. It sucks. Along with the plethora of other physical stuff that isn't the same, believe me, you don't want to mention this to me. Not a good idea.

My kids have a mother who is recovering. For God's sake, cut them some slack. They live with me and while I try to keep things normal, things aren't normal and haven't been for awhile. Seeing a parent in pain regularly and sick is rough on a child. Please keep you own child from harassing my kid over stupid stuff. Or you're gonna hear it from me. Keep your own and your kid's petty bullshit to yourselves. If you can't, then I will do it for you.

Oh yea, and guess what? You can feel like shit and still be an effective parent. Let ME discipline my own children, MY WAY. Guaranteed my kids are better behaved and more aware of proper behavior than yours. Why is that, you say? Because my kids know about compassion, something sorely lacking in this world today. And my kids know I'm their PARENT first and then their friend. And guess what else? Their meltdowns have a reason - a sick parent. Your kid's melt down just because you're a crappy parent.

Don't address what is different about me. Believe me, I know it. I don't want to hear how you're losing weight. Try taking 4 months of steroids and see if you've retained your figure. Throw in some Tamoxifen and then we'll talk. I'm exercising every day. I'm toning muscles that haven't been used for anything other than sleeping for 8 months. Get a fricking grip. At this point, I don't care if you look like a Vogue model.

My boobs aren't an issue. Everything else is. Kindly move your eyes above chest level and look me in the eye. If you want to see the results of breast cancer, I'll gladly show you. I lost my modesty months ago.

God help the policeman that stops me because I don't have the chest strap across my chest when driving. And God help Md's governor Martin O'Malley if I get a ticket. I use the lap belt only, I'm an adult, and I pay my taxes. It hurts my boob. Wanna see why?

Cancer isn't free. It costs money. Copays and prescriptions cost a ton of money I would otherwise be spending on my kids. I don't have anything extra. So spare me your own "I'm poor" pity party. Trying spending your vacation money and savings on drugs and copays that you will never see again. All to keep yourself alive. It's great fun. I'm thinking my out of pocket expenses exceed $4000 for a one-income family. My medical treatment has to be over $500,000. Yes that's five hundred thousand. Try having that hanging over your head for awhile and then we'll talk about money.

Wigs suck. They aren't an answer to missing hair for me. Don't ask me anymore why I don't wear my wig. It's hot as hell and makes me have hot flashes on top of my hot flashes. I don't look like me at all. Add that to the bonfire.

Don't you dare take my picture. This is my nightmare, my life, and my body and mind that have been trashed and dragged through the mud. It's not cute, I don't care how cuddly it is - I want nothing to remind me of how shitty I look and how shitty I feel. It's beyond unkind and no one should take a cancer patient's picture unless they ask. Call it vanity or whatever. Take a walk in my shoes for awhile - a real walk for once. Get into the nitty gritty of imagining how YOU would feel in my shoes. And use your God given common sense.

I'm entitled to my pity party. Try waking up everyday, knowing you've had cancer, are going through treatment or on the road to recovery. Try having a daily reminder that your femininity has been shredded and you feel like shit. Try living with the knowledge that you face this beast every day and that it might end your life. Recovery involves both the physical and mental coping and IT IS NOT EASY. If you can't deal, then go away. Literally.


Daria said...

That is a great post ... thanks for having the courage to "tell it like it is".

I applaud you.

Holly said...

YOU rock! You said it for all of us and I am grateful for your explicitness (is that a real word?). Thank you, thank you, thank you. I thought when my treatmetn was done this nightmare would be done. There is not a day that I don't think about breast cancer....

Sue in Italia/In the Land Of Cancer said...

Rant away my friend! Yep it is a big surprise to everyone that once you are out of treatment, things are not all better.

Armand said...

Thanks for finding the words to say what so many of us struggle to utter for so long...

I kinda touched on the same thing some time ago. You're just more eloquent about it.

S. F. Heron said...

Daria, Holly, Sue, and Armand - hugs to you all. I just find it awful that one has to go through this to understand the nuances when, of course, most of it is common sense.

I swear, this blogging stuff is therapeutic :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Sweetheart!

That's the best rant I've ever read ... too bad those who really need to see it don't read your blog. Just make sure it becomes a full chapter in your book.

Dad and I love you very much.


Anonymous said...


Renee said...

Standing on my chair, at the office, yelling,
"ooooooooooooooooooooh, Mama! I love it. You rock!!!"

You know I HAVE to link this to my blog [please give me permission] for the non-cancer followers who have asked,

You're done with treatment, so why are you [insert one of the following]. . . . "

. . . tired?
. . . achy?
. . . sad about your hair, it's growing?
. . . have to have so many medical appointments and miss work?

and the best one . . .

. . . still thinking about cancer?

S. F. Heron said...

Go right ahead Renee :) Spread the word!!

Jill said...

Wow, this is one of the best and truest posts I have read in a long time. You tell it like it is and right to the point. I admire that in you! The pain and emotions are there long after treatment has ended....people who think we can just forget shouldn't talk until they have walked in our shoes.

Toni said...

What a great post! I am a friend and follower of Renee's blog and I have never suffered and pray to never suffer from this horrible disease. You ladies are my heros. I lost my cousin to breast cancer and I saw (I didn't need to ask) how she was and how she suffered but was strong for her family until the end. I am thankful that Renee posted a link to your post.

Thank you for letting us know how it really is.. God Bless You


Cora from Hidden Riches said...

Wow!!!!! I'm sitting here in a funk, staring at my computer, wondering if I'll ever have a life again, or if I even want one!!!! Found your blog today, and I must say, for the first time in weeks, I'm jumping up and down cheering you on as I read!!!!! I feel like a cheerleader here! The letdown after the treatments are done was worse than all the crap put together. And the worse part??? No one thinks you are "sick" anymore and don't want to hear a thing about it. We are supposed to "get on with our lives" --- what life? My life seemed to have died a year ago . . . or went on without me and I haven't found it yet! Thank you for saying everything I've wanted to scream from the housetop for a long, long time!!!!!


Ronni Gordon said...

Sometimes the little things people say are the most disturbing. Here's a post from my blog describing one example. Sorry I couldn't get the link to work, so if you want to read it you will need to cut and paste:

Alli said...


Though I have not reached the end in fact i'm barely at the start, I can certainly appreciate what you are saying.
Thank you for the words...they just rang around the globe!!

wolfqueen2 said...

Bravo. I just lost my oldest brother yesterday to cancer, and my best friend only one month ago. You tell them girl. People are so stupid sometimes.

OddBall said...

I have seen the benefits of the Steroids. She's now bench pressing 220 lbs easy. Why, just the other day her husband needed help changing a tire and couldn't get the floor jack to work. So, she performs a wifely duty and lifts the corner of the Family Truckster and holds it IN THE AIR while hubby changes the tire.

She's a trooper all right.

But we hear she still smells.

Colswife said...

You really hit the nail on the head with your rant.
I have a husband with Secondary Kidney Cancer, his brother died of cancer last year and his sister was diagnosed with breast cancer this year.
I am going to send my sister in law the link to your post as I think it will help her.

Nadine said...

Finally...someone said everything I've wanted to say for months now, and did it publicly. THank you, thank, thank you!!