The Cancer Curmudgeon Versus Snow: A Saga

Followers of my Facebook page will know I occasionally post harangues about an impending snow event. From 2 inches to 18 inches, doesn’t matter—I WILL complain. It wasn’t always like that. So what changed? Oh, in case you are wondering what this has to do with cancer, or my experience, bear with me, you’ll see.

Ocean City, Maryland, The Pier

Once upon a time, this beach bum liked snow. A true Atlantic/beach girl/Southerner, I knew that a couple of inches would close the schools—thank goodness. Northerners will never know the utter relief that comes with the gamble & pay off of NOT writing your big paper because of a snow forecast, and having that pay off of one extra day, that “Schools are Closed” day, to finish the paper. #ProcrastinatorsUnite. (Like you didn’t know I am a big procrastinator, please, look at this blog.)

A true book nerd/future English major, I also loved the romantic aspect of a snow day. The fact that I could stay inside, sip hot chocolate and read, watch old movies, whatever. That silly notion persisted through college days too. I even held onto the fantasy a little after joining the Real World. I embraced the idea if the world would just slow down for a moment, because of weather, I could catch up—read all those books I bought to “read later”, organize them, etc.

It’s not that I was completely unaware that people had jobs that meant they had to go out in the elements; I just thought I’d wind up being a writer, and I’d live snug in some apartment and could choose not to go out. Ah, being a slacker in the 90s while I was in my 20s was such a great innocent time.

But reality crashed and I had to drive in one too many bad situations only to have the store I worked in close after a few hours—a waste of a whole day. Maybe I was paid for the whole day, even the time I didn’t “work”, except the time I spent cleaning the car, driving, sliding uncontrolled into ditches, that time added up, and my resentment grew.

The pinnacle was the winter before my diagnosis. I worked at a non-profit and it had yet to enable us to work offsite. I drove several miles in a State of Emergency, passing a number of car accidents, to declare conditions too ridiculous to be open. And drove back home. And inevitably some fool complained a few days later—claiming their free off-of-work day (that they had because of bad driving conditions) meant I should’ve been working to take care of their stupid little problem, via phone, or they ignored the driving restrictions to annoy me in person. (Around this time I realized working in non-profit was just as disheartening as working in retail—because, assholes exist.)

I remember the times it snowed while I was having my chemo infusions. It’s not like I could stop those early; I needed the full dose, and then my ride had to deal with the shitty driving conditions. I don’t have digital copies of the pretty pics taken at the beach while I was in treatment—I remember taking the photos, trying to capture a moment even while too sick to be outside for very long. I’d like to share them here, but I’m not sure where they are. I might have trashed them—I went through a phase of destroying all physical memories of my time in treatment.

Now that I’m a pet/house sitter/self-employed/small business owner, I absolutely loathe the snow. Lost work days=lost revenue. Work days in snow are more physical labor, and labor is hard post-treatment, you know that. Work days in the snow means everything takes three times as long to accomplish. I’m already pressed for time to devote to reading/writing. This most recent storm, combined with my most recent killer cold, has been a huge imposition for me.

And of course, yes, I am mindful of the people who have to work in this mess. But more importantly, every time it snows like this, I see closures of local cancer treatment centers. I understand why—we are a beach area, there are few snow plows on the road, even now, several days later, some roads are truly impassable. Even today I skidded on a few side roads I use. So some cancer patients in rural areas simply are not going to make it to chemo, and some nurses cannot make in to work. To say nothing of dialysis patients, of patients with a million other concerns, who have to delay an appointment, to have to wait another horrible 24-48-72 hours for test results. Awful. I remember the snow while I was in treatment, I shudder, a particularly awful memory in an already awful set of memories.

But there is a deeper thing here to reveal about myself, this Curmudgeon. I am a cynic, I do not deny it. In fact I am slightly proud of it. But what is a cynic? Nothing but a (bitterly) disappointed romantic. I am sure I annoy many with my habit of always pointing out the bad stuff in a situation.

But that’s only because once upon a time I looked at the good in a situation first, and I’ve been disappointed bitterly too many times. If you really want to understand how the Cancer Curmudgeon comes to any cynical POV, look no further than this story.

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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.

3 thoughts on “The Cancer Curmudgeon Versus Snow: A Saga”

  1. I always think about folks not being able to get treatments because of Mother Nature whenever she acts up, with blizzards or hurricanes, because here, of course, we get both. My agency has gotten tons better over the years about making sure we can decide for ourselves to be safe first. We were basically closed during the storm last week. Lot of office staff can work from home now, and none of the field staff went out except maybe a few nurses for things that could not wait. Even driving in the aftermath, though, is awful. No place to park at peoples’ homes, etc. Oy. It’s all very stressful.

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  2. Hi CC,
    It’s funny how our perspectives evolve over time on anything and everything. I have a love hate relationship with snow. No doubt, it’s beautiful, but I wish we could have it without the cold. ha. I have such fond memories of snow days as a kid. Come to think of it, it seems like we used to get way more snow back then. There are pics to prove it! And when I was teaching, omg, snow days were incredibly welcomed by kids and teachers alike! To this day, I wanna start making cookies or drinking hot chocolate when it snows. This winter, we’ve had very little snow and as you know, I live in WI. Having said this, it’s snowing right now. I’m grateful my chemo was not during winter months, and I do think about people who have to make their way to treatments, regardless of the weather. One more reason cancer sucks. And finally, love how you say a cynic is a disappointed romantic. That is something to ponder. Think spring, right? Or just make cookies?

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    1. OMG I wondered if you would “get” my hot chocolate, snug on a snow-day ideals! It is funny–as a Maryland beach person, the idea that you have snow days in WI is funny to me. That is probably because I’ve read too many harsh tweets/comments about what weaklings we are here on the coast, too much meanness about that infamous Atlanta interstate traffic mess a few years ago. For me snow is never just snow–it is the cold and the dangerous ice that ALWAYS accompanies it here at the beach. Heck, I slipped and fell on my butt the other day AFTER writing this post–which kind of justified writing it.
      That said, yesterday it was 60 degrees and raining, and it’s all gone. That isn’t even weird here, and I’m not even mad. I will say we had LESS snow in the past than we do now, OR I’m just annoyed by it more so every little inch infuriates me and I “remember” falsely. Funny–are we getting the snow you all in WI normally get. Hmmmm….
      I wish I could say I came up with the cynic=disappointed romantic theory, but it was some alt rock musician (one of the guys in Jane’s Addiction I think) that said it in an interview in the late 80s or early 90s and somehow it stuck with me. I’ve never doubted the truth of it since then. It is one thing chemo brain did not erase, which is good.
      Thank you for commenting on this ramble. It is only sort of related to cancer, but likely gives a very wide look into my personality.

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