There is no such thing as a good cancer.
There is no hierarchy in the vitality, quality, attachment to, or need for body parts.
Any part that is destroyed or rendered useless by cancer or cut off or out by a doctor deserves to be grieved.
Scars are totally badass. So is baldness and breastlessness and whatever else cancer does to tattoo itself to the body.
People with cancer are allowed to curse.
People who love people with cancer are allowed to curse.
People who have cancer or love people with cancer but don’t like cursing are allowed to not curse and are allowed to come up appropriate alternatives. They might be laughed at, this is also allowed.
Morbid humor is acceptable and understandable and funny and just might get cancer patients through the biopsy or the radiation or the phone call.
#cancerbuddies are a real thing, no matter what kind of cancer a person has. People with cancer are unwillingly initiated into a world of new vocabulary, strange bodily reactions, extreme vulnerability with strangers, sleepless nights. It helps to have someone to share it with and to laugh about it with and to cry about it with. My first #cancerbuddy is a dear friend who had breast cancer. Twice. When I told her I have cancer, she asked questions no one else asked. Not because others are thoughtless but because she knows, in the core of her bones, she knows.
Cancer affects the person and those who love the person. Spouses, children, parents, in-laws, and best friends deserve to have broken hearts and tears and anger, too. They also might need meals or cards or hugs, too.
People with cancer get to be angry. Or not. Sad, or not. Scared, or not. Usually all on the same day, sometimes in the same hour or at the same doctor’s appointment.
People with cancer get to say #blamethecancer about things like taking naps, walk breaks on runs, eating too much ice cream, crying at strange times.
People with cancer are thinking about cancer almost all the time. People around people with cancer don’t need to pretend it doesn’t exist and don’t need to hesitate to bring it up. You are not reminding us. We know. Trust me, we know.
People with cancer do not need to be told herbal medications or essential oils could cure the cancer.
People with cancer do not need to be told that if they exercised more or ate better or avoided airplanes, they would never have gotten cancer in the first place.
People with cancer get to answer the question, “How are you?” with, “Fine.” Or, “Fine. I just found out that part of my body is killing me and I’m having trouble sleeping and cry at random times and sometimes I want to scream and throw rocks and other times I want to laugh at the absurdity that this is my body and I’m wondering what God’s plan is for me in this and I worry about how my kids are handling it and I don’t know how to plan for the recovery and wish my husband didn’t have to worry about it and it makes me sad when people look at us with pity but we also want them to look at us and think about us and support us but I don’t like being the center of attention, I also don’t like being sick, except that I don’t feel sick except I know that I will feel sick once the treatment really gets started…”
People with cancer get to ignore all manner of medical advice except what their highly trained and competent and involved doctor tells them. Even if your own aunt’s neighbor’s waitress’s hair stylist’s niece’s puppy had the exact same cancer and was treated with organic essential oils and meditation and got cured(!).
On the other hand, if you have had the same cancer, feel free to say to the cancer patient that you are willing to talk and share your experience, even if it included essential oils, when they are ready.
People with cancer don’t have to be brave. They just need to show up at their appointments. They can joke with their doctor but they can’t laugh away the cancer. They don’t have to fight hard, they have to lie still with needles in their necks. They don’t wage battle, they are the battlefield.
People with cancer get to add to or delete from their manifesto that they have publicly posted online whenever they want because they are learning and changing and because #blamethecancer.