Cancer crashed my party more than fourteen years ago. The guest from hell. Uncouth, unkempt, possessed of a nasty disposition and with no respect for boundaries. Lousy fucking company.
And then there was the matter of an underlying agenda: this guest intended to kill me. To say the ensuing relationship has been uncomfortable is an understatement. And all attempts to evict the interloper have ultimately proved unsuccessful.
Yep. Chances are cancer and I are in this for the long run. At times I think the only remaining question is which one of us is going to burn the house down first.
Now, with no shiny new weapon to pull from the arsenal, I have had a lot of time to reminisce about previous treatment modalities. Cutting, chemicals and more chemicals. In the process I have lost hair, teeth, toenails. My skin has erupted, my esophagus bled. Sometimes I have not recognized who I had become, inside or outside.
Throughout it all I have viewed myself as a warrior, my body the battleground. Fighting, always fighting.
A few months ago I decided that perhaps it was time to try another approach. I would listen to my body, talk to my cancer. “I go, you go,” I said in a reasonable tone. “But it doesn’t have to be this way.”
I’d like to tell you that my cancer perked right up, slapped itself on the forehead and told me it didn’t know what it had been thinking. Apologized for the selfishness, the nihilism, all that stress it had put us through. That now that it had seen the light, it was going to just pack up and go home. Mea Culpa.
But of course that’s not what happened. And I also discovered that my own sense of antipathy overwhelmed any sort of pseudo empathy I might be trying to pull off.
When all was said and done I realized that there was only one thing left to do. I would decide, yes decide, to simply ice cancer. Just like that. “Cancer, you’re dead to me.”
You know what? It’s working. My stress level immediately plummeted. Already familiar with the fact that not giving a fuck can be a super power (really truly) it simply hadn’t occurred to me to stop caring about cancer.
I had scans last week, a review two days ago. And even though the historical precedent has been that once progression starts, it just keeps going, I felt calm, cool and collected. I already knew. My cancer is stable. STABLE, Y’ALL.
We’ll discuss this further. But in the meantime, think about it. Pretty much everyone with cancer is stressed out all the time. 24/7. Can’t be a good thing.
What I’m doing now—deciding not to care—isn’t just some simple party trick. It takes determination and a strong, strong will. But the positive feedback was instantaneous once I figured out how to let go of the stress. Give it a go. Even if for just a few minutes or an hour or two. And then see if you can do it longer.
I am not cancer free but then again, I am cancer free insomuch as I am anxiety free. And I will wager that is bad for the cancer and good for me.
Thanks for this, Linnea.
Linnea I have been on blood pressure medicine for about 15 years and after my Wife Suzanne passed away from lung cancer two years ago and I retired from working full time 7 months later a strange thing happened. My blood pressure went down. Yep down, last time it was measured it was 114/85. My doctor asked me why do you think you pressure is so good. The simple answer I told her was I just don’t give a shit about anything anymore, there is nothing so important to worry about or stress myself over anymore. You do what you can and really as it turns out the lyrics from Bobby McFerrin’s hit song “Don’t worry, be happy”, have a real life impact if we so choose to life by that axiom.
As always, I wish you the best as you continue your journey and really FUCK CANCER by not letting it rule your life but only be a an aspect of your life.
I am a breast cancer survivor. Your posts are so helpful to me.
Yes, I couldn’t agree more!! Love the way you think.
Yes! Intent Rules👈🏼✊🏼❤️
Linnea, when you get your book collected, please let me know; I’m a professional literary translator with 16 years of experience and 56 American, British, and Irish novels translated into Russian, and I shall take it as an honour to make your book available for Russians. Thank you for you, always.
This will be my “mantra”! I am continually trying to eliminate the stresses in my life but somehow they are always rearing their ugly head… Here’s to not giving a f…..!
I’m with you! Long ago I decided that I would never refer to it as ‘my’ cancer but rather ‘the’ cancer. Seems like small semantics but means everything to me. Love and hugs.
You are amazing Linnea! I love your attitude, it is contagious, not easy to emulate, but awesome in the true definition of awesome! You are a warrior and the best part of your “warriorness” is your openness and willingness to share your thoughts and ideas and your tenacity! Thank you! You are awesome!!
Hello Linnea, it was so awesome to finally meet you! I love your blog. Early in my treatment I came across a novel language regarding cancer survivorship, using “healing” to replace “fighting” cancer. I loved that terminology as invited less conflict and more of a “working with” approach. But I too, have kind of learned to “ignore” the darn thing. Of course, this is easiest when treatment is working, and things are going well. But, like you, I’ve found it very helpful to put it “on ice,” and forge forward. It’s kind of like a mental release, a kind of allowing yourself to just be. So grateful that you write and share. What a powerful thing it was to have you and Dr. Shaw sharing the stage the other day! I sent a pic to my oncologist . . . so heartwarming! More doctors should have that kind of rapport with their patients, so touching.Thank you! Karla C.