My Way

I keep hearing some TV commercial using the Sid Vicious version of the song. Most folks prefer Sinatra’s classic interpretation, I’m sure. Some may hate the song altogether, no matter who sings it, and some may never have heard it. Such is the story around interpretations of songs. I’ll argue until I’m blue in the face that only Bing should sing “White Christmas”, I gag when I hear Clapton’s “I Shot the Sheriff” because I only like Marley’s, and Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” is THE definitive version, and I violently turn off the radio if I hear Rufus Wainwright’s take on it (of course, since Cohen wrote it, I do listen to his versions, consisting of whatever selection of the many verses to the song).

The point of these musical musings is that everyone has their own point of view about how a song should be sung, and how cancer should be treated. While I can create my own playlist with my preferred versions, I would never insist on forcing my playlist on others, and I certainly do not suggest anyone do what I did with cancer—in terms of medical treatment choices, attitude, ANYTHING! But as anyone with cancer knows, it is damn near impossible to avoid anyone telling us how to do cancer.

Several days ago*, there was some small ripple on Twitter because a person told Lisa Adams to enjoy the time she has left—and stop fighting, what is it with people saying that?! The essence was, stop treating, accept that we all must die—that tired old message. Geez, not even a year after the Kellers decided Adams was not doing cancer to their liking—WTF!

At first I thought this person did not have cancer, and was just mouthing off. My gut reaction, to anyone who spews that “we all gotta go sometime and it is your turn now” crap is: hey, unless you are the one doing the dying, you have NO right to say that. We all gotta go sometime? OK, be my guest, I prefer to stay alive. And I still have that view—I’ve seen enough of that kind of sentiment expressed prior to this to be quite set about my view. (No, I do not have stage 4 cancer, and I do NOT have an opinion about how it should be handled, not even for myself—I learned during cancer that it is not possible to know what I’ll do in a situation unless I’m in it, will cross that bridge when I get to it).

After reading a few of the tweets tho’, I am guessing this person is also stage 4 and has decided to stop treating. That’s fine—for him or her, but not Adams or anyone else.

Cancer is a human issue, one that all humans must consider and discuss. The fact that money and time is spent on research for treatments that might benefit millions is a matter for public discourse. But there is a fine line crossed when one person tells another how to handle the same stage and/or type of cancer. I’ve said many times, cancer does not exist in a vacuum—two people may have very similar types of cancer, but there are too many other factors, medical and otherwise, that mean comparison is just off-limits. Sure, advice is fine, but the ultimate choice must remain with the individual. And just because any individual shares their story of choices on social media, it is NOT an invitation for criticism or questioning, or especially permission to “stop fighting”. (I’ve posted about the issue of whether sharing a cancer story invites public opinion before, here and here, and will likely do so again.)

My various playlists would likely give most folks a headache, switching from Morrissey to the Misfits to Metallica in moments. So I would not force them on anyone, hell I don’t even share them. Who cares? They’re mine. Same with cancer. The treatment path I took worked well for me, as did my post-surgery choices. Some may take the “way” of Ol’ Blue Eyes, and I’ll side with Sid’s “way”.

My Way. Your Way. The only WAY to do cancer, is the patient’s way.


*Several days ago—what can I say? I’ve been busy. So my posts about things are gonna be late. I write a post in my head when things happen, and hope I can get around to writing, but usually I don’t. I hope to write about many items—the Dr. Smith blog for one, but I can’t promise anything.

Author: Cancer Curmudgeon

Oct 2010 diagnosed with Stage 3, HER2+ Breast Cancer. Completed treatment Jan 2012. Waaaaaay over pink. Applying punk rock sensibility to how I do cancer.

9 thoughts on “My Way”

  1. So very well said!! People just need to stop. Getting so very tired of *this is how you do it* with bc, & the comparing…I’ve even encountered an almost “competitiveness” with some bc people. I compare it to the “being in labor story” as in *Oh you think YOURS was bad, MINE was blah blah blad, & I had to go through blah blah blah….” & of course there’s usually incompetent medical staff in the story somewhere. (Child labor – which I know zero about, having also chosen to not do the kid thing)

    Come the hell on people! And stop telling others what to do, how to feel, etc. Sure share advice, but be respectful of the choice of the patient.

    I, too, want to blog the Dr Smith thing, but, like you, I’ll get a blog going in the brain, & maybe only get half of them actually done. Looking forward to your curmudgeonly take on the *good doctor* .


    1. Oooo yes the competitive edge, something I’ve been working up to posting about for a looong time. Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer did a great one maybe 2 years ago or so. I was so upset once by someone who said if a person did not have full on chemo, radiation and mastectomy, then that person just did not have as serious cancer as she…ugh still upset by it.
      Yeah, like I’ve said in the past, it does not matter if tons of people on the interwebs, or just a few people I know IRL know about my treatment path–no one has the right to tell me what to do. Hmph!
      Ha ha, I write posts in my head while walking a dog, in the shower, or cooking–none of those times are good for having a laptop handy for writing. And by the time I sit down to the laptop–well, I usually fall asleep. So there are many posts started as word docs, but unfinished. The thing about the doctor–there are soooo many issues to discuss. I’ll have to tackle each one separately over time that I do not have. BUT, glad to know you’ll read it!
      Thanks as always Kimberly — so glad to know you! I value your input!


    1. Oh yes, thanks Marie! I do check in on your blog to see the conversation in comments–just haven’t had time to process and write much–tho’ I did write a little about it on my Facebook page. My jobs keep me hoppin’!


  2. And then there’s what I call the Twin Tyrannies of Good Attitude and Positive Thinking. My attitude and way of thinking is nothing more or less than my attitude or my way of thinking. Cancer’s a randomized crap shoot, not punishment for my attitude or way of thinking, and how I deal with cancer is how I deal with it. Chemo’s a wild ride and cancer’s quite the trip. So, if someone doesn’t like my attitude or way of thinking, hang on, it’ll change with the next chemo-induced mood swing.


    1. Twin Tyrannies! Love it! They still irritate me — not as much as they did when I was fresh outta treatment, but yeah, I still get a little twinge every now and then….Sigh. I guess that is what we’ll always have to do, remind others that it is our own cancer, to deal with as we see fit….


  3. dear CC,

    when 20 months ago I became a widow, then within 3 weeks after Hugh’s death and diagnosed with yet another cancer, I made the comment at various times and to people I trusted with their capacity for empathy and caring – “Cancer has become a paler shade.” one would have thought by their appalled looks and the apparently scandalized words they had just heard, they were clearly on a mission to set my mind straight. there was an immediate set-to, a frenzy to make me see reason, a belief that I had lost my mind and was headed for disaster. not a single person “got it” – none had ever dealt with cancer, and nary a one was a widow. while i didn’t give a rat’s ass about the judgments and their fears for me (most aimed at trying to make me feel guilty and irresponsible), I learned a lot about how not to expect helpful and caring listening that might have evoked a deeper understanding of the place I was in. and I learned very graphically about toxic people who needed to be weeded out of my life. done. crickets.

    . but those who were privy to how I felt, who understood the clusterfuck of grief , the grief of my fairly recent bout with ST IV metastatic breast cancer and it’s aftermath, then the unspeakable loss of my beloved, all the while as I was looking down the barrel at what would be 9 mos. of grueling treatment for metastatic uterine cancer, I finally found my people. they were my oncologists, my chemo nurse angels, the other patients being treated sitting next to me. and then there is my cyber ( REAL as real can be) family, so many, such as yourself in our tight-knit, diverse, loving, understanding, and so willing to listen community who understood perfectly, who hold me in their virtual arms, who give voice to how much they want to support me and assure me over and over that I will never be alone. and they have never left my side. they ask how I am doing and name the doing they ask about, they are comfortable in knowing they cannot always put themselves into my shoes, but it never stops them from holding my hand, sending warm hugs and big hope through the ether, e-mailing, responding to my comments, and making me feel included and valued. and not once has a single word about how I shoulda, coulda, might wanna do either cancer or widowhood.

    frankly, I am sick to death of those of us who live every day dealing with horrific losses, who continually do their best to stay up on their hind legs, trying mightily and fearlessly to live well, within the confines of what feels liked a whack-a-mole existence at times, always being the ones to educate those who are clueless. if they sincerely wanted to be informed about issues like grief, cancer, it’s aftermath there are myriad ways to educate themselves. and I can no longer countenance lazy, uninformed, insensitive spewing of their one-size-fits all comments, attitudes, and judgments. I have let go of every vestige of cutting them slack for their “well-meaning” behavior. I have found my strong – it’s in my legs – I just walk away. feels so good.

    much love, GREAT POST, my Friend!

    Karen OOXOO


    1. Thank you! Wow, you are living as a shining example–one I hope to emulate. It is funny, the past few days since I got your comment, I’ve been seeing this meme that says something along the lines of folks should try being informed before getting so opinionated. I think you would like it!
      Indeed, I am so glad to be part of this virtual community, especially here with you. Here, I learned there are no wrong ways to do cancer–thank goodness!
      Love, CC


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