Monday, 20 April 2015

My Cancer Doesn't Suck

A little while ago I posted a YouTube video on why I don't think my cancer "sucks".  That seems to be the going sentiment in my group of social media friends, that Cancer Sucks!, and it has always bothered me.  Until it became personal I couldn't really express how I felt, certainly not in a way that might not have been considered disrespectful of other's feelings.  I hadn't walked in their shoes, and still haven't; each individual's experience is different.

My short video doesn't really do justice to how I feel.  Here's what I mean to say.

  • To say that something "sucks" diminishes it.  The phrase is best applied to little stuff that doesn't really make a difference in the big picture.  Like missing out on low gas prices because you procrastinated on filling up.  That sucks, and it's small stuff.  A diagnosis of cancer IS the big picture, particularly if one, like me, learns that there is no cure in the foreseeable future, and further, with mesothelioma there is no foreseeable future.  It is a fast moving, nasty disease.
  • I think it's too easy to copy and paste a "Cancer Sucks" meme, so it's the lack of effort that not only bothers me, but again, the failure to even scratch the surface of how the disease affects families, friends and co-workers.
  • It's hard to be continually told that my "cancer sucks" from well-meaning friends.  It's not very encouraging or uplifting, and it's not at all how I feel.  Perhaps a way around it for someone reaching out for the first time, unsure and bit nervous, is to ask.  "How do you feel?" or even "How do you feel about all of this?"  I am very appreciative that almost every friend has asked the follow-up question, "how are the kids doing with all this?"  Warms my heart.
  • And finally, for any of us in this home to say "cancer sucks" is like giving in to self-pity and woe.  In this house we openly discuss this disease and all (and I do mean ALL) of its ramifications.  But it doesn't define us and it's not the only thing we talk about.  For example, we all seem to agree that the 2013/2014 Leafs SUCKED!

My cancer doesn't suck and here's why.  It is a reality, an ever-changing new normal, and a fact-of-life we, my family and I, live with every day, unflinching, head on, and one step at a time.  We are not being brave or courageous because in order to be either, you have to first be afraid. We are not afraid.  We don't like any of this, we are not looking forward to some of it, but we are not afraid.  We are neither fighting nor battling cancer; I'd hate for you to read those words in my obituary.  We are living with today's reality today in a way that makes good medical, spiritual and common sense for us.

Tomorrow's reality will come tomorrow, and we'll face it head on, then.


  1. I love the way you think. I'm very proud of you Jeremy.

  2. My husband is recovering from cancer and I must admit that this is a perspective I had never considered before reading your post. It opened my mind to a new way of thinking. Thank you for sharing!