Another Piece of Not So Stale Re-Post

When I re-post old posts, I feel like I’m giving out stale pieces of bread. But, I mostly feel the same way about the subject as when I wrote it–so does that make the post still “fresh”? Has it not passed the sell-by date? OK, enough food analogies (I like to cook and eat, so sue me).

Anyway there are usually multiple reasons I re-post. I read other blogs or articles that cause me to think, then I realize, I’ve covered this before. I might again. But for now, the re-post will have to do.

The Age Divisions

When I was first diagnosed a few days before my 39th birthday, I concentrated on just the big picture of breast cancer, and I did not really pay attention to issues of age…at first. I was lucky to be treated at a facility that, despite its location in a small-town and rural area, was evolved enough to have a resource for young adults with cancer. A special support group was started for us by my friend, diagnosed a few years earlier with ovarian and uterine cancer. Joining support groups is so the opposite of my personality, but I am so glad I joined this one. It helped offset the annoyance I still felt going into the infusion room and seeing the looks of surprise given by my fellow patients as they watched me, not my mother, sit in that chair each time (even though I was the bald one, go figure).

As I progressed through treatment and began interacting with the others in our support group, I have researched a few resources outside of our little local circle for “young adults with cancer”. There are some cool things out there, like Huffington Post’s Generation Why blog, Stupid Cancer/I’m Too Young For This! Foundation, and First Descent.

But I wouldn’t be the Cancer Curmudgeon if I did not have a complaint. Generation Why is a play on “generation y”; naturally I am “generation x”. First Descent and events produced by Stupid Cancer are for anyone with cancer ages 13-39. Since I was going through treatment the entire time I was 39, and I worked while in treatment, I did not have much left-over energy or vacation time for anything like that. Hell, even the SCAR Project, which I admire greatly, had a limit of age 35 for participants. So does that mean, since I am 41, I am no longer allowed to be a sexual being, upset at the scar and lack of nipple that cancer left me? I do not think this, but it seems that “society”, or certain organizations, or who knows else, is putting these parameters in place, once again trying to fit cancer experiences into these little boxes.

Cancer sucks no matter what number of years you’ve walked this earth. Maybe people should not be reduced to age brackets when it comes to cancer. At 41 I should be at a certain place in a career, married with 2 kids? Nope, I don’t fit the “profile”. No kids…so the worries of informing my kids, raising kids, and worrying about their future without me does not apply. But I am single and would like to find a husband, and hell yeah, I am worried that my “damaged goods” are going to impact my chances of finding a one, a problem I see discussed in articles targeted to those in their 20s and 30s. In addition, I am certainly nowhere near retirement, in fact, am still searching for my “perfect” job. In short, I know what my particular challenges are, and there may be someone out there in the same or a similar boat, or maybe not. I’m sure lots of patients cannot imagine facing my set of circumstances, the same way I am baffled when I read other bloggers’ posts of trying to go through college while in chemo, some without family support.

Look, I am not poo-pooing these resources I’ve mentioned, I am grateful they exist. I sort it out as I research & read, and just try to take what applies to me and move on. I know that the medical community and these various organizations have to create these age brackets in order to do the testing, compile data, and create their target markets. I especially would like the medical testing industry to expand their vision to include testing and results for each and every age bracket, so treatment can be improved and prevention discovered. It’s all about the stats and the odds, I know.

I just want everyone, especially the number-crunchers, to remember that the one common thread in cancer patients no matter the age is that we all want to survive and live well, and that there is a person behind each number or stat.

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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.

2 thoughts on “Another Piece of Not So Stale Re-Post”

  1. Hi CC,
    I really appreciate this post since as you probably know, my mother died from metastatic breast cancer and I sometimes think about this very thing. I realize that a young woman with or without children is in an entirely different situation and all that, but still, this doesn’t diminish the pain and suffering my family went through just because my mother was ‘old’, more importantly, it doesn’t diminish the pain and suffering she went through. So I agree, we must never forget the common thread – the beast that is cancer. No one should be subjected to its awfulness and age certainly shouldn’t be a barometer to measure who has it worse (that’s not exactly the words I’m looking for, but hopefully, my point is understood), though of course, I realize there is a need for some age bracket differentiations for this and that. As you said, cancer sucks at any age. I hope my comments come across the ‘right’ way. I’ve thought about writing a post about this too. Thank you for writing this one. I missed it the first time round, so re-posting is good. Different people are reading at different times. Not stale at all!

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    1. Ha ha, stale–I couldn’t resist the toast/post pun. Sorry, I’ve taken on some cooking and meal prep for one of my clients and I love it. So cheesy puns are going to start seeping into this blog. Mmmmm, cheese. Oh crap, there I go again. Cat’s out of the bag, I love food.
      Anyway, yes I am glad I wrote this, and frustrated I still feel the same way. And your point is coming across just fine–I do fear that the age issue can wander into cancer competition territory. I was really upset at some of the arguing against that cancer is the best death piece. The immediate reaction was to bring out the example of the young mother and I perceived a sense of maybe its OK for an older person to have the long death, but cancer was especially tragic for young mothers. Death is horrible for children left behind, regardless of their age–and also for parents who bury their own children–as would be the case if my cancer comes back and kills me. Would their pain be less important, less worthy of sympathy? Just a thought to chew on.
      Of course, it isn’t just the grief of death that the age issue matters. I’ve had to tailor my own post cancer path since so many articles and mental health programs do not address this 40something’s needs. What I need to do is tailor my expectations of those resources I suppose, and to stop relying on them. Being a childless, single 40something puts me in a minority even outside of CancerLand–those were my (absolutely correct for myself) choices, and I must accept the consequences. I’ll just keep muddling along like I do, and hope I don’t flame out too badly.

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