Filtering by Category: non-cancer people

Empathy Fail! Heather Duff's Story About Her Manger's Awkward Attempt to Understand

Published on by Matthew Mewhorter.

I love this story by Heather Duff about how her line manager attempts to relate to her pain in incredibly awkward ways. Check it out:

I was 27 when the doctors diagnosed me with a rare and aggressive form of cervical cancer. At the time I had recently completed my first marathon and was playing national league hockey. Being a non smoker, who rarely drank with an exemplary diet I thought I was immune to cancer. I was wrong!

The lasting effects of treatment has catapulted me into early menopause and left me infertile. A bitter pill to swallow but it could be worse. When I returned to work I chose to confide in my line manager. The conversation went like this...

Manager: How are you?
Me: Honestly? The life I know has gone - I think it'll take a while for things to settle.
Manager: It must be awful. I imagine it's like when you find out Santa's not real.

After an awkward silence I continued the conversation and assumed her response was a nervous one. We got onto the topic of colleagues, several of whom were pregnant at the time:

Me: I find it a little difficult. I'm still coming to terms with infertility and I can't help but feel that is something I'll never have.
Manager: I know what you mean. I can't take a tan. It's like when people come back from their holidays all bronzed showing off their tans. It's so tough!

I stopped talking to my line manager from then on!

Check out Heather's awesome blog, FU Cancer at 

Patient Stories: Cancer Survivor's Struggle With Mother Over Life After Cancer

Published on by Matthew Mewhorter.

An anonymous cancer survivor sent me this story about her and her mother, and the kinds of things her mother just doesn't get:

I was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer during my last year of graduate school. The number of times I heard "your too young for breast cancer" was unreal but surprisingly that isn't what this story is about. I went through chemo and then surgery and then radiation. My husband had to keep working full time but went to all the chemo stuff. He just didn't have the time off available to him when I had surgery so my mom came down to help out.

I learned to cope with cancer (or get away from it for a while) by playing boardgames. We played through long hours at the infusion center and in the evenings after I had a really shitty day. Once I was up and moving around a bit from surgery, we decided to teach my mom to play a game. It was a cooperative game and things got really intense. We were so close to winning but we were about to trigger nearly all of the lose conditions. I was getting really animated and involved in the game.

At some point, I grabbed some snakes and casually made a joke that I was "stress eating" because of the game. My mom turned to me and said "you get really into this". My response was "well, I don't have a lot going for me right now". She turned her nose up at me and responded with "you just beat Stage II breast cancer,".

Well, yea, but that doesn't change the fact that it sucked. I was 28 with cancer. I had to put my life and my career on hold. All of my classmates had graduated and gotten jobs and moved on. I lost my hair, my breasts, and a year of my life. I hear this a lot in various forms. I should be "happy" that I get to live.

I AM happy. I'm thankful. I want to believe I'm living my life to the fullest and appreciating every second BUT that doesn't mean I'm not angry and sad and scared. That doesn't mean that I don't get to have negative feelings about what happened. Cancer changes you, for better or worse, and telling someone going through treatment (especially when you have no experience with it) how they should feel is just wrong.

Cancer Super Power: What Cancer Patients Gain That Others Don't

Published on by Matthew Mewhorter.

Read the rest of this comic here.

You know, for all of the crap us cancer people go through, there is some serious silver lining in the whole deal.

A blessing, if you will.

Or perhaps, a curse?

In my latest comic this week, I share what must look like utter madness to most people. The idea of being blasted with so many different emotions must seem like a kind of a hell.  And well, sometimes it is.

But sometimes...

Well, let me put it this way: My therapist shared with me that all human beings, from birth to death, will experience a wide spectrum of experiences and all the emotions that come with it. But people facing chronic or life threatening illnesses, experience an entire life's worth of these emotions in a much smaller window.

This means that those who stare death in the face in the way cancer patients do, are given a sort of foresight into a perspective that is normally only granted to those in old age who look back on an entire lifetime of experience. 

So young adults who are faced with the very real reality of our lives coming to an end much sooner than planned, are given the previous revelation that so many yearn to aquire: the knowledge about how to truly live life without regret at the end of it. 

That's right, I'm saying that we cancer patients learn the meaning of life...or at least get a real taste of it.  

So yeah, we can be basket-cases sometimes...passionate one moment and a blubbering mess the next. But that's because we're hit all at once with the kind of perspectives that takes a normal human being a lifetime to achieve if they're lucky.

So yeah, we're kind of awesome like that.

Now excuse me while I laugh/cry myself to sleep.