Why Would Anyone Worry About Cancer?

Why worry about cancer? Because, fucking cancer. It is natural if a friend or family member has been diagnosed with cancer for you to worry about getting it yourself. It is seriously going around, and is not as effective as a weight loss regime as you might think. Crossfit might be better. I get approached frequently by friends and friends of friends who have received a recent cancer diagnosis. I’m glad to talk to them, because one of the few cancer non-suckedness is its equalizing effect and the tremendous community it builds. Cancer veterans embrace the newly-diagnosed with open arms. Cancer knows no socio-economic, intellectual, gender, nationality or any other boundaries. It is an equal opportunity employer (who is trying to kill you and orphan your children). I tell these friends how sorry I am and point them to my blog posts about my cancer experience, hoping they might laugh at the pink cows. Then I apologize because my cancer was no big deal. I’m not being stoic. As far as cancer goes, mine was nothing. I don’t say this because I’m a fearless bad-ass but because my tumor was diagnosed early and my cancer type was very common. I still have my boobs, and I didn’t have to go through chemo. That’s probably why I don’t worry about cancer, at least as much. Of course there are lasting lifetime effects, but sometimes I feel like an impostor in the cancer circles because my acute experience was so minimal in comparison. Still, cancer changes a person. And once you’ve had cancer, you fear getting it again. An abnormal pap smear result makes your heart race like it never did before. Your mind panics. It just does. Weird pains which you know rationally are related to exercise are, at least for a millisecond, considered for their cancerous properties. You try not to be a nit-wit, but sometimes the nit-wit overwhelms you.

worry about cancer

Why worry about cancer? Do you fear death?

A friend who just finished chemo and has a week of radiation under her belt asked me about whether I ever feared death from cancer.  She asked me because she’s in the thick of treatment and cancer is all-consuming. It’s on your plate for breakfast, lunch and dinner at the point she is. I wanted to answer how it would best assuage her own fear but I had to admit that I didn’t fear death from cancer. “I can’t explain it. I just don’t think cancer is what is going to take me down. I think I’m more likely to be run over in a crosswalk because I’m so cavalier when crossing the street. When I depart this world, it will serve as a warning to others.” You know Jennifer. She always looked at rules more like suggestions. Also, I don’t think God would be cruel enough to take me, my children’s remaining biological parent, at a young age, despite no evidence of any such pact.

My friend has addressed her fear by eating a special diet, not drinking alcohol and doing everything in her power to prevent the cancer from returning. Taking these measures is what helps her make sense of why cancer chose her. If she could isolate the cause then she could head cancer off at the pass. Cancer had the opposite effect on me. I didn’t need to understand why I got it. And since we normally don’t have a clue what caused our cancer, I decided worrying about it was utterly pointless. That is until I get a questionable MRI.



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  1. Lena Starbird

    “…since we normally don’t have a clue what caused our cancer…” is my typical starting point when mom asks if the doctor says it’s ok for me to have that glass of whiskey! Yay for insightful & hilarious bloggers! Thanks for sharing, Jennifer!

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