Don’t Use the “D” Word
“So I knew this kid in high school who got cancer. He died within the year. He was so great!”
“My Uncle had prostate cancer. He died.”
“Did you know that an estimated 360 people will die from testicular cancer in 2012?”
These are all statements I’ve heard from people since I’ve slowly began to return to normal life. I’ve always found getting the worst possible news from the people that I love most so much more reassuring that affirmations of love and support.
It’s amazing how certain words have totally different meaning now. Like “Death” of course, but also “Cancer,” “Patient,” “Tumor,” and the phrase “Hang in there!” I’m a fairly rational and levelheaded guy, but hearing “Hang in there!” ignites a defensive reaction that even I’m surprised by. It goes something like, “Oh, funny guy making a slight reference to my one testicle! Reeeeaaaaallllll FUNNY!”
Cancer is an uncomfortable topic for anyone, probably more uncomfortable for people that don’t have it. When you’re diagnosed, you’re thrust into a community you never chose to be apart of, but are nonetheless always going to be apart of. Reading countless survivor stories is nice, but they do nothing for me! In fact they just set up expectations that cannot be met. My cancer is nothing like your cancer, or worse, why am I so upset by my little testicular cancer when you’re dealing with ______(Insert More Serious Cancer Here_______?
My cancer was caught early, but I still need to go through chemotherapy. Nothing says “sick” like losing all your hair! I used to see people with no hair on the subway, and I’d feel sorry for them. Now I know different. They are people dealing with something they have no control over. Their bodies, like mine, are trying to kill them, and the only control they have is the decisions they make and their attitudes. I choose to be smart and happy.
I don’t know how I’m going to handle chemo. I’m prepared to feel very sick, and to be in a lot of discomfort. But I’m also prepared to know that I’m doing everything I can to kill this cancer inside me.
And please, avoid using the “D” word or feeling sorry for me. That being said, if looking at my bald head inspires you to….
- Buy me lunch
- Have sex with me
- Give me rides
- Offer an all expense paid trip to a country of my choosing
…. well, then maybe we can talk about a subtle form of pity.