Hello dear reader(s)!
It is October, and you all know what that means!
If you guessed Halloween, or Fall fun, you probably didn’t read the title.
It is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, because, apparently, people only need to be aware that people get breast cancer in October. So…you know…don’t go doing anything crazy like scheduling those mammograms any other month now.
It is also Domestic Violence Awareness, which is very convenient for the NFL so they can hide their lack of standards on domestic violence behind pink Susan G. Komen merchandise and ribbons for cancer merchandise marketing.
Now, unlike many cancer survivors, I do not have a problem with Breast Cancer having a whole month. The marketing and profits off of it bother me, but not the concept. Just because it wasn’t my particular type of cancer, does not mean I am offended mine doesn’t have a whole month. You can screen for breast cancer, so be aware of that, and do it. Just don’t pay $35 for a pink ribbon, of which very little goes to any actual curative efforts.
Anyway, this isn’t an anti-Komen post. This is a post to, once again, educate all of you who have never had cancer about the realities of cancer that you may not understand.
- Cancer is not a cold Not everyone just gets over it once it is no longer in their body. For me, my true battle didn’t even begin until there was no evidence of disease. The damage done to the rest of my body from the treatment of this otherwise fatal disease did permanent damage to my body that I will never fully recover from. I hear in one ear only, I have kidney damage, I have immunity issues that can be severe, I have periods of complete fatigue where just keeping my head upright can be a struggle, I have peripheral neuropathy which is constantly painful to very painful nerve damage, I have cataracts that have made night driving virtually impossible, I have low nutritional absorption and hormone production, I have a couple of related psychological disorders. Just because some days I can walk, and lift, and look healthy, does not mean I am. To paraphrase one of my former oncologists, I look a lot better in person than on paper.
- Cannabis has not been shown to cure cancer But make no mistake, I believe it was imperative in my survival. I am very much pro-legalization and would still be using it today were it not very illegal here. My ability not to, has also proven it isn’t addictive the way people claim, for all you anti-legalization advocates. It’s a great medicine, but if you think you can not do any of the treatment your doctor recommends and only do cannabis instead, you’re gonna have a bad time.
- It can still happen, no matter how clean you live Vegans get cancer. Vegetarians get cancer. Nonsmokers get cancer, teetotalers get cancer, paleo diet enthusiasts get cancer, gluten-free people get cancer, anyone can get cancer. I was super clean prior to cancer. I don’t smoke, and I didn’t then. I rarely drink. It didn’t matter. A cell division error happened, and I had cancer. That doesn’t mean living healthy will not help to put the odds in your favor, it just means you should not assume that anyone with cancer had a lifestyle issue.
- All the miraculous treatments you read about on the internet will not be available to most people for years, if ever, and probably won’t be so miraculous by the time they are Immunotherapy may be the big exception to this one. I really wish I could have been a trial subject on that one back when I was first diagnosed. I’d probably have a lot more of my function, and would not have had the kind of insane fight and many near-death experiences that I had if that had been available to me.
- You have no advice to give Whatever you just read on the internet has already been researched by either the patient, their doctor, or their family. Whatever methods you use to get through the things that you have to do does not apply to them. No matter how much you think your tips for making sure you can get things done works for you when you are having lazy days, it isn’t going to be effective for someone having trouble keeping their eyes open that day. That doesn’t mean you can’t help.
If you want to help someone with cancer, or with the sometimes very damaging and life-altering after affects, here is what you can do.
- Ask, “Is there something I can help you with?”
- Be understanding when someone is down
If I need something, and someone offers, I will let them know. Otherwise, not only do I need it, but chances are that I am going to get offended by the person offering things unsolicited.
This isn’t one size fits all. Neither is cancer. But with those two last bullet points, you are probably not going to go wrong with anyone.
May you never need to know any of this one day.