What’s Good for the Cat Is Good for the Cancer Curmudgeon

I was slow to the social media thing in my cancer career. No, scratch that, I was slow to the social media/internet in general. I mean, in the 2000’s I used the internet for work, but nothing else. I got my first laptop really late–2005–and just so I could work while away from the office. So it was not until I completed treatment and quit my 9 to 5 that I really USED the internet the way it was intended–to watch cat videos! To share silly memes! Oh yeah, and to find others who shared my disgust with breast-cancer-as-pink-party.  I began my cancer blog late 2012, around the same time Grumpy Cat started to get popular. So I’ve always felt a little kinship with the cute little critter–partly because I began living on the internet so much and she was everywhere, and most importantly those “I had fun once it was awful”-style memes featuring her.

Now, before I continue, I should say I love Grumpy Cat and understand she is not really grumpy–the “look” on her face is a result of dwarfism. But I love the hoopla that surrounds her–messages of holiday joy interrupted with “NO”, or the aforementioned “I did xyz once, it was awful” line that pops up a lot. I love the attitude, her face–the whole grumpy she-bang.

Well, of course I do. I’m a grumpy cancer patient!

But of course, when a cat is “grumpy”, (wink wink, because she isn’t really), it is cute and funny, and it sells crap to make her humans rich. But grumpy cancer patients are not regarded as cute and funny. And I, for one, have not acquired fame and fortune for my curmudgeon-ing.

The correlation I’m feebly trying to draw here is that the grumpiness has its benefits. Tardar Sauce (her real name) has reaped rewards for her grumpy shtick, or at least her humans have, and she isn’t really grumpy. While my curmudgeon-y blog isn’t a shtick, I’ve reaped rewards as well. For one, this blog functions as a way to let off steam. And to connect with others with similar views on the idiot cancer culture. To joke around with the lovely people I’ve met on the internet. To re-learn a love of writing that I thought I’d lost. In short, I’ve actually found joy in the act of being a grump about cancer.

I’m sure this won’t make sense to most people. I suspect those folks who like to get on FB and say stuff like “I’m choosing to be happy about my cancer”, or “why are you so angry, don’t you want to be happy”, don’t understand an essential aspect of being a Curmudgeon. And it is this: I’m usually happier when I’m grousing about something.

I know, I know. I can feel/hear/see/imagine readers of a certain ilk shaking heads and thinking: “what a miserable old bat, what a way to live your life finding things to fuss about”. Well Hell’s Bells, I don’t have to find them–there is almost always something to fuss about in cancer culture. When I first started blogging I was naive, thinking if bunches of us wrote and pointed out all the BS wrong with cancer culture, especially pink culture, surely, SURELY, change would happen. (I’ve often said I’m a cynic, but remember cynics are usually disappointed idealists. “But in retrospect, being cynical just meant that you cared. There was something at stake.” –Stephen Malkmus.) That is where the “anger is a useful tool for change” theory comes in. (Remember Barbara Brenner in “Pink Ribbons, Inc.”, as she relates a tale of being told not to be so angry, and she countered with her view that anger was a great motivator for change–love that part!) I no longer expect much in the way of cultural change.  Well, I’ve noted in older posts–can’t remember which ones–that I think the tide is turning a little bit. I noticed locally that one run/walk has a sub-slogan: a fun event for a serious cause; and another annual, local run in the name of a late metster has just this year removed the “Brews for Boobs” title. Did someone tell them how stupid it is to giggle about boobies when death is involved? If so, then I wish to thank that person who got pissed off enough to confront them. Score one for anger, or for being offended, or whatever!

It bothers me still, but also makes me laugh these days, when I see FB or blog comments telling me or others not to be so angry, that having a positive attitude will make life more palatable (why yes, I DO mean ol’ Joan, but some other random commenters too). That might work for the one saying it, and it proves that s/he has no idea what makes MY life palatable to ME. Running around pointing out how damaging Pink culture is, connecting with others so we can each say “whew, thank goodness it’s not just me”, now THAT is what makes cancer life palatable, for me, and some others I know.

Finding and sharing truths about the shittiness of cancer has been satisfying. Confronting facts comforts me. Yet so many people perceive it as “being negative”. My message to them is this: “Stop it right now. You may think you are spreading your sunshine, but you are really raining on my grumpy parade. I was having a good time and you wagging your finger at me and my attitude is what is REALLY getting me down.”

Let Grumpy Cat enjoy her grumpy meme-y success. And let me and my friends Curmudgeon. Some folks like the sickening fear of riding roller coasters, being turned upside down at horrifying speeds. Personally, I hate that. But I’m not scolding anyone for getting on that terrifying ride. So stop scolding me for my idea of fun.

 

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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.

16 thoughts on “What’s Good for the Cat Is Good for the Cancer Curmudgeon”

  1. Some of my best snarky humor about breast cancer culture over the years has come from my anger and skepticism. I’ve always believed that anger is often energy that can be directed & channeled into something good, like writing, like shining a light on something awful, like spelling out a problem and the means to fix it. I always wonder if people who never get angry about anything are either in denial or just don’t give a crap. You have to care to be grumpy. We may never turn the entire pink-a-thon around, but I can definitely say that way more of us have noticed it, objected it to it, and have spoken out about it. And, in concrete terms, it has made some differences. For example, some of SGK’s more well-known fundraisers are garnering less and less unvarnished support. So, there! Carry on, Curmudgeon!
    Kathi

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    1. It’s like that saying if you’re not angry you’re not paying attention, right? I was just having this conversation yesterday with my client–about politics tho’, which I try to avoid here. I’m just wired to look at the big picture and look behind the curtain–to question everything. It is scary to me when people don’t think deep about stuff (and they vote!). It baffles me that people don’t research an organization before donating. And yes, SGK walks are starting to shut down–so look what grumping about them has done! Sigh. Oh well, I’ll keep at it. If I stopped–that would truly be a sign that I’m negative. It seems so twisted that my rants are “positive” for me–I know it strikes people as counter-intuitive but, it works! xox

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  2. I’ll never understand why I get scolded for the way I advocate. Hell, at least I’m doing something besides planning my funeral. I don’t tell other people to stop smiling or to tone down the happiness factor so don’t tell me how to do what I do. Everyone has their own way. Although, IMO 24/7 positivity, to me, means denial and we can thank SGK for that.
    Great post Curmudgeon!

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    1. Thanks! I’ve been thinking on this topic for some time, but the incident that happened to you was the final straw for me! (I did go over to your page to see it). It just made me realize how people’s idea of happy is so different. YOU are happy advocating in your way, YOU have or will have a satisfying sense of accomplishment. How dare anyone try to take that away, or be dismissive of it with those “I choose to live my final years in peace and happiness” types of comments. Just like I said about the roller coaster–those things make some people happy, me? No–I see that as tempting the laws of gravity–but you don’t see me down at the boardwalk scolding the people in line for tickets. Oh heck, maybe THAT should be my summer project–hahahaha. xox

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  3. Hi CC,
    I LOVE this post so much! I had a recent experience (with a family member who has been diagnosed with cancer, more than once) regarding the positive attitude thing. She rebuked me and unfollowed my page, which of course, was/is certainly her right, but still, my feelings were slightly hurt. So my point is, some people will never understand that not jumping on the positivity bandwagon does not mean we are being negative. Maybe our brains are wired differently or something. I am so with you on this. Sharing the shitty truth about cancer is satisfying for me too. I refuse to pretty up my cancer experience and turn into something it is not. I am so grateful for friends like you who allow me and encourage others to be real. That is spreading real ‘sunshine’ IMO. Great post. I might just have had a revelation of sorts. I’m coming up on year six since my dx, so I’ve been thinking a lot about this stuff lately. So thank you for this post. Thank you for being you. xx

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    1. Oh you are so striking a chord with me here. My aunt (the one dx’d with stage 3 E/P+ breast cancer a month before I was) totally embraces the Pink and positive stuff. Luckily she is not really into social media so we won’t have any FB incidents. But, we don’t ever talk about this stuff–I know it would go badly. It definitely is a brain wiring thing. Like you, I’m a flaming liberal, and my way of looking of politics and this election season matches exactly how I do cancer–grumpy! So it’s funny that people think cancer caused my so-called “bitterness”. I’m like, no, I’d be grumping about something else, vigorously, if I wasn’t lobbing my little rants at cancer!
      I’m gonna be 6 years this October too. It is soooo weird to think about it! Like how is it that you and I are 6 years out, still involved in this (and not mets)–what makes us tick? Hope you figure out this year–look forward to reading that!
      And thank you for being you–having a friend like you has been such a POSITIVE force in my life (take that all those people who call us negative)!❤❤😄😄

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  4. I LOVE this post too!! My anger is part of me and I allow myself to go through it every chance I get. I’ve realized that I love being grumpy and complaining when I feel like I need to. It’s just who I am now. Some people have issues accepting that side of me though. But I’ve also accepted that some people will never allow me to be myself because they just don’t want to deal with it I guess; and that’s OK too, except I won’t suppress my feelings to accommodate others. I always get annoyed when I read “inspirational” cancer stories because they only include Disney-like details (not saying some patients don’t actually feel like that). And sometimes I scratch my head and really wonder if I am just too damn negative. I don’t think I am. I am just being me. I am OK with that.

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    1. And that is the best part–being OK with that! I mean that is what I’m getting at–I may be writing things that make others unhappy–but I’m pretty happy doing it! So what gives? I used to think, or believe others’ opinions–that I’m a negative story. But the past year or two, I’ve been like, no, wait, I’m actually happy…whut???? Perverse! In some ways, being happy about this is probably all the more infuriating to people LOL!! Anyway, I’m glad to know you, it is so nice to have others with similar view! xoxo

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  5. As other grumpsters and I have discussed “you do you and I do me.” I think anger does bring change. Some with honey too, but no one needs to play both roles.

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    1. Oh my goodness you just reminded me of something funny. I caught a re-run of Big Bang Theory the other day and one character said the thing about catching more bees or flies (ech, bugs!) with honey than with vinegar. The quirky super-smart guy responded with “you’d catch even more with manure”. I LOVE that, because, well, he has a point! Now as for applying that analogy here in CancerLand–is the “manure” equivalent to the positive thinking theories, or just what? Who knows? I’m not going into that, ha ha! If I remember correctly, you work with Komen to bring about change, yes? Well, we need you to do that–some others, like myself, are just not cut out for working within orgs. (I’d argue I’m not necessarily trying to rebel either–I don’t like either/or choices, but that is a whole other post). The real problem comes from not recognizing what bring individual satisfaction. So to be told that I’m being negative or that I am unhappy–it just completely misreads me! And that is the key people miss I think. Oh well, thanks for reading!

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  6. How much do I love this post? Omg it SO resonates with me! And I’m really sick of people that want to cram their brand of Happy/Be Positive/Don’t Be A Downer down our throats! I love your Curmudgeoness! xx

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  7. Great post. Find it interesting that for some people to survive in the world they need to edit the unpleasantness out. Guess I’d be worried living in a world that I understood only by avoiding things that appeared broken. As for catching things with honey, it’s always seemed more practical to avoid the attention of bears and bees.

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