You Need To

I’ve been having a hard time writing lately; I’ve been mentally blocked. I’m even having a hard time reading some of my favorite blogs. I’m chalking it up to a temporary fatigue not just with cancer, but with the way damn near every issue is discussed. I hit a boiling point the other day that made me immediately start laughing. And I realized I am just sick of EVERYthing.

What caused this?

Well, I’ve griped here on this blog about some of my dislikes with certain words and phrases in CancerLand (see Some Word Problems). I know many others agree with my thoughts on some of these major language gripes—you know, “fight, battle, awareness…” all those. They are so overused! The word awareness is now meaningless to me. I’m sure I’ll delve into that subject (again) in some future post.

But I’ve found lately nearly all kinds of words are so overused that I’m reacting like I’m hearing nails on a chalkboard. I’ve been reluctant to complain about them because I know most everyone else uses these words, and are OK with them. But I’m gonna go out on a limb and say I’m sick of these words anyway. I’m not criticizing anyone for using them; this my fault for being too immersed in media. I’m not suggesting anyone amend how they speak or write, on the contrary, I’ve used these words myself, and only want to change my own habits. And I’m just trying to clear the cobwebs out of my mind with a few random rants.

Words/phrases that I’m not going to gripe about in this particular post—but will likely confront later—are common and simple, like “powerful/empowering”. So tired of those two being used to describe stuff. And “journey”—ugh, that one makes me nuts. The incident that made me laugh as I mentioned in the first paragraph? I ran across a blog about weight loss and the author said something like: why does my weight loss program have to be called a “journey”? And then I knew that “journey” was not just overused in CancerLand (stuff like “your cancer journey” has always made me retch). It seems society just uses words like “journey” or “struggle” for anything these days. And clearly I’m not the only one disliking it.

Like I said, I don’t want to concentrate on ALL the little words driving me crazy in this post—I’m sure more posts about one word/phrase at a time will pop up here and there in the future. What is driving me most crazy today is this one: “you need to….”

Whenever I’m told I need to do something, that pretty much guarantees I won’t do it. And yes, I’ve said the need to phrase myself on this blog (Somebody Needs to Buy These Media People a Dictionary—and I stand by the thoughts in that ancient post), so obviously I’m just as guilty of trying to modify others’ behavior to suit me.

What irks me about being told I need to do something—and yes, I’ve been told in my comments I need to rethink my points—is that I view it a shortsighted, and illogical as an argument. And even if the argument made is valid, the rudeness of the need to phrase undercuts the strength of the argument. When I was told I need to think or educate myself about an issue in an old comment, I was annoyed because it was such a poor argument. I had indeed reviewed/thought about the issues brought up by the angry comments. My mistake was poor writing, and not making myself clear to show that I’d considering many angles of the issue. That is a sticking point for me in fact—I try to see ALL sides of an issue, but sometimes that is a bad thing, it paralyzes me into not taking a stand or making a decision (that’s a post for another day).

I’ve seen the need to phrase used and the one using it is quite right, but the rudeness of the phrase, the smug superiority I perceive when I read or hear the phrase, undercuts the point. I remember a rant blog post making the rounds last Pinktober asking why other cancers are not sexualized like breast cancer. A VERY angry reaction by a patient with a rarer cancer included the directive “you need to think about…” It undercut her rant for me totally. I happened to agree—comparing illnesses, comparing how cancers are “sold” is a bad move. When discussing the sexualization of breast cancer, those of us criticizing should keep in mind the dirty benefits reaped from the campaigns (awareness begets funding—this is a post for another day, again), and bring the fact that breast cancer is the most “popular” (read: funded) cancer into the discussion. But being told we NEED TO do it just rankles.

I started writing this over 30 minutes ago and could not remember what set me off. I mean, the need to phrase is so damn overused! I researched and again it was a rant I agreed with—but the “you need to” command at the end ruined it for me. A woman had written about how racism, fat shaming, and income inequality were health issues. Someone had pointed out that fat leads to strokes in a comment to her. You know those types of comments—I see them in EVERY post written about weight. Turns out the woman had a hole in her heart that led to her weight gain, strokes and other illness. If she’d had money to be tested earlier, all those issues would’ve been prevented. It was a great lesson; I was on board with her 100%. But her directive that her commenter NEEDED to stop cosigning this crap just killed it for me.

Are there things we NEED to do? Of course. But this cultural habit of wanting to “school” someone in this manner is driving me crazy.

OK, just my stupid little random rant for today. I know it must seem odd—a curmudgeon who rants A LOT fussing about counter-rants. But, this is just my point of view today. Maybe I’ll change my mind. I’m just dealing with a great amount of cancer culture (or all health issues culture) fatigue at the moment.

Cake

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“Yeah, but bacon tastes good. Pork chops taste good”

 –“Pulp Fiction”, 1994

While I was ranting in the previous post about how the media treated the recent death of Gandolfini, I began ranting about how TV doctors, commercials, and other media go on and on about healthy diets, and soon I was going on and on and on about food and weight loss and the judge-y judgertons on TV, and had wandered away from just fussing about Gandolfini and how his death got treated. I realized just how much media messages about diet and weight bother me.

I call this post “Cake”, but I don’t just mean cake; I’m using that one four lettered food item to stand for:

Ice cream

Chocolate

Cookies

Fried chicken, oh heck, all fried foods, fried stuff with cheese, to quote Joey Tribbiani

Rare steak

Fudge

Bacon

Cookies

Cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger

Pie

Mayonnaise

Brownies

Mac-n-cheese

Potatoes

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Candy

Fruit juice (not the real, 100% juice kind)

Coca-cola (I mean all soft drinks, where I’m from Coke means any syrupy, carbonated beverage)

Wine

Vodka

Biscuits

Pasta

Waffles

Food smothered in any kind of creamy sauce, mmm, like Alfredo

Sweet tea

Pizza

Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, lovely spam, wonderful spam

In other words, every food or drink that is awesome but is aiming to kill me. For the record, I don’t like soft drinks or soda pop (whatever your region calls it), or pie, or spam (my favorite song), but I’m listing foods that I know many others enjoy.

Now, I love when y’all comment on my posts, but I gotta ask this time that no one leave me a lecture about healthy diet and exercise, or moderation. I don’t eat a box of pasta and a jar of sauce every night for supper. I get the concept of moderation. This post, in combination with the preceding one, should explain that I GET IT, I just feel like I’m being lectured all the time with the constant messages about losing weight. Liberal media, Right wing media, shoooooot, Diet media is more like it. Sometimes I think that whole Cancer Thing I had there was just a plot constructed by The Smoking Man to get me to eat a damn salad. (Kidding, I ate salad in my BC—before cancer—era, I just do it more now). Who is The Smoking Man? OMG, stop reading and go stream all episodes of “The X-Files”, like right now, before I sic the unmarked helicopters on you. My love for that show probably explains too much of my blog.

Anyway.

You guessed it; this is just a humor post, me blowing off steam by going to the ridiculous extreme. I’m just complaining, and kicking against this constant need to behave sensibly that cancer seems to have imposed on me. No, this post was written by the six year old me, and she is cranky. And she wants a donut.

But in all seriousness, the issue of weight in all health-related pieces I see or read is really making my blood boil lately, and Gandolfini was the last straw. Wanna hear something stupid? BC, I was not overweight at all. I was in the correct weight span for my height. Was my BMI perfect? Doubtful. Was I a pleasing shape? No, I looked like—and still look like—a marshmallow with toothpicks for arms and legs, because all my weight gain goes to the middle, turning me into a box shape (oh yeah, forgot marshmallows in above list—but I don’t like them either). Was I fit or in shape? I’m not sure; I mean I had two physical jobs that required me to be active and do lots of heavy lifting. So, no I wasn’t in the gym, mostly because I was busy, working my ass off to get the money to pay the bills. I had no immediate health risk factors for anything really, other than my family (genetically and you know, stressing me out, driving me crazy).

Now, post-treatment, yeah, I’ve put on some extra pounds, and that has everything to do with chemo. During those first awful weeks of chemo, I hated all food and doubted I’d ever want to eat again (and yeah, lost ten pounds very quickly, my pants kept falling down, plumber butt!). Two years after chemo ended, and the smell of most foods do not make me nauseous anymore, it’s like I still cannot quite believe my good fortune at getting my appetite back. I’m like a kid in a candy store, or cake store, or steak store, or fried chicken store, or caramel popcorn store, or…you get the idea. So, I wasn’t overweight before cancer, I gain it after cancer because I missed the taste of food so much, and now all I hear is: fat causes cancer. I just want to scream! I can’t win for losing. So if I get cancer again, can I sue chemo treatments for making me appreciate food anew, and therefore causing me to overeat and get fat causing me to get more cancer? Yes I’m being facetious and sarcastic, to make a point.

I’ve been rolling my eyes lately at the commercials in which a woman is confronted with a donut or cake or a person dressed up as a cupcake or some such nonsense, and she chooses the healthy fruit-filled cracker-like snack. It’s just so stupid. That supposedly healthy choice is not at all healthy (preservatives, empty calories, and all kinds of other crap) and it is just so unrealistic. I would take that cracker and throw it, and then devour the cake. The ad doesn’t make me buy their product; it does make me cook fatty foods. I once watched a film about food that started off promising, talking about why humans crave the carbs and sugars and what not, but then it turns into what seems like an ad for juicing (I did not check, but I can take a guess at what or who funded this documentary). Not once in any of these types of commercials/films/shows does anyone acknowledge a basic truth:

CAKE TASTES GOOD AND THAT IS WHY I WANT IT. All the fancy juices and jam filled crackers in the world will not change that fact, why will no one admit this?

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I do not have great will power, but when I do manage to exert even just a little will power, it comes from admitting to myself that hey—I want that cake (or any tasty food) because I LIKE IT. I don’t stupidly pretend that better-for-me foods will give me even half the joy or satisfaction the cake could give me.  Otherwise being healthy would be easy, and I would not need films, commercials, and talking head TV doctors lecturing me. Of course, this line of discussion gets too close to that Kate Moss quote (“nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”).

Of course, that opens a whole other can of worms doesn’t it? A friend with numerous chronic illnesses (none of them being cancer) must avoid fats and sugars to avoid going from feeling bad to worse. It is like a simple mathematical equation for her: Insert cake into mouth = feel terrible all night. Lucky for her, she is one of those people who just don’t care much about food, and cutting out certain foods doesn’t faze her, she never misses any of them. Well, that ain’t the case for me and the equation is not so simple in cancer. Being fat is a risk factor but not an absolute. Cutting out all the things I love (wine, chocolate) does not give me a 100% guarantee, and I want that guarantee. And again, don’t send me a lecture, because I’ve heard the argument: being fat is a risk for the post cancer woman because then she’ll just die of a heart attack, if not cancer. Gee, thanks. Health nuts get their panties in a twist about this one all the time, I know it, I understand it. Now, can I have a piece of cheesecake to enjoy?

Sigh, guess I just have to file this problem under the “life’s not fair” section, and muddle on.

But maybe my real point, in all this fussing, whining, and moaning I’m doing here today is this: I have a sneaking suspicion that cancer has made me afraid of enjoying some of the simple things in life I used to like. I wanna go outside; nope, pesticides. I wanna go to the beach; nope, sun = skin cancer. I wanna dye my hair magenta again; nope carcinogens in beauty products. I wanna eat something good; nope, I’ll get fat. It’s like I live in a world full of “nope” now. No, I’m not being so drastic or extreme as to suggest that for all the limits on my life now maybe I should’ve just given up when I got cancer. Not at all. Just sayin’ real simple-like, I know a life-long health-nut guy who stopped eating sugar and his Lymphoma keeps coming back. Remember—no guarantees. All I’m saying is, I could take those twigs on TV a little better if they’d just admit they want the cake, rather than putting their noses in the air, piously waving the sweet treat away and then downing a glass of something that looks like liquefied crap that came out of the lawn mower.

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A friend sent me a quote once about not just wanting to survive, but wanting to live. If I can get 10 to 20 more years, well, by golly, they will be ice cream-filled years. Now that is L-I-V-I-N’.