“What’s the harm?” “First, do no harm.” “Do what you will, so long as it harms none”. I realize the surrounding connotations of these phrases–that these phrases, well, the last 2, are discussed in long essays (like about how oncologists have to cause some harm to treat cancer, for example). I don’t take it lightly, but I don’t want to get into it either. All I want to discuss here is the surface idea of the phrases–the notion that we are “free” to do whatever we please, so long as we don’t harm others. My thought lately is, some things do more harm than is recognized. So much for our “freedom” to do whatever we want, the notion that we are all entitled to our opinions and the murky area of sharing (foisting them on?) others.

During and right after treatment, when I was in my white-hot-angry-at-perky-cancer-culture era, I kicked against the expectations of cancer patient behavior/views. When I started blogging, I found others who said we are all free to “do” cancer as we want. Well, I could get on board with that! But these days I see that idea as, well…an ideal that is not often realized. Continue reading “Harm”

Ouch That Still Hurts

This happened a few days ago. Just a couple of hours after I commented on another cancer blogger’s recent post that I am now less irked by the clichés people say to me, I got a message via Facebook from someone I had not spoken with in years, urging me to let go of all this cancer stuff.

Well I was a little more than irked. In fact I was quite hurt.

While the message was more personal than the trite “you’re so brave/ a warrior”, or “aren’t you a better person now”, it was still in the aren’t-you-over-it-now territory. There was a little bit of magical, fairy tale thinking to it. And it came from a person who’d had cancer many years ago, along with other personal tragedies, including a family member who died of breast cancer. So it was one cancer patient telling another how to “do” cancer.

I know the intention was one of goodness, this person truly wishes me well. But not having had an actual conversation with me in over five years, she has no clue where I am emotionally on anything, especially cancer. She managed to hit nearly every sore spot.

I blog for many reasons: to connect to others whose view or experience of cancer is not the sanitized TV version; to sort out the emotional fall-out; to express my rather cranky take on cancer so others, who feel the same way, don’t feel bad about it; to create a space for myself where I could vent without the lectures I’d received implying I was doing cancer wrong. I went back to Facebook earlier this year solely to create a page for my blog, in order to expand and strengthen connections to others with cancer. I use it as a source of news too, but that’s about it. I rarely post things about my life—I just hit like on the wacky things I like, at random. And oh yeah, this is why—as I’ve written often enough before, sometimes it’s just better to never discuss cancer with family or friends (I Can Pretend, My Reality and Your Fairy Tale, I’m Allowed).

I thought the stupid shit people said to cancer patients didn’t bother me as much as it did in the raw days during and after treatment. Nope, still does. Ouch, that unwanted advice still hurt me.

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