Monday, April 2, 2012


April.  Heath Activist Writer's Month.  HAWM.  WEGO Health calls it "ha-mik" which is syllabically easier than saying, or in my case remembering the letters or, for that matter, their order: HAWMC.  Heath Activist Writer's Month Challenge.

Since I made a commitment to myself to blog daily.... Monday through Friday Daily, when I learned that WEGO Health was having a writer's challenge, I thought: I'm definitely doing this.....  The month was April.  I made the commitment weeks ago.  Received a list of daily prompts so I could conceivably get a head start on some of the writing and here I am, a day late and a dollar short as that saying goes.

Joke's on me.  When did April sneak up on me?  I've been looking forward to turning the page on the month of March since I watched my backyard go from a splash of colorful flowers to the dreariness that is Winter in New York.  April is here and I didn't even NOTICE?  April Fool.  Fits nicely with the ongoing reference to myself as the Court Jester.

If you saw the end of the post dated April 1,  I was mostly on a rant about something.  My usual rant. Something is unjust. I'm beginning to feel a bit like Al Pacino.  And Justice For All.  "You're out of order, this whole court is out of order....."  I can see him shouting but I do not feel like googling this to get the quote in its entirety and then, do a further detour explaining how this all fits in with this part of me that feels as militant as Angela Davis.  I may not sound like Angela Davis.  But there are plenty of days I'm pretty sure I feel like she must have felt in her heyday.

I don't know if I fit the description of "Health Activist" or for that matter, if I qualify to be called "Writer," but I write and I see plenty of things that MUST be changed.  The title fits.  Loosely.  At best.

The folks at WEGO health issued this challenge with a list of prompts.  The first "prompt".... yesterday's prompt..... was about a time capsule.  I wanted my time capsule to be something like what happens in Bridges of Madison County.  Meryl Streep has died and her children discover her stolen weekend with Clint Eastwood.  Initially, they are angry as all hell and as they dig deeper, they realize she sacrificed her own happiness for the sake of those she loved.  Truly, the definition of selfless.  It was only after she made sure her husband was cared for and her children were on their own that she began to pursue her own path, hoping to find Clint Eastwood once again after all of those years.

Rather than use all of the imagery as I intended when I first saw the list of ideas, rather than invoke the emotions I might have felt a I gathered the items for my capsule, rather than describe the questions that might be on the minds of those who might open this thing, I did what the entire world of raising awareness does best.  I slapped a pink ribbon on everything and I called it a day.  At the tail end of the day.  Off to a rather lackluster start.  I am however, still ticked off at the "event" I discussed in my April 1 post even if the time capsule is little more than a footnote in the final paragraphs.

I'm better at Mondays.  Let the challenge begin.  Day Two.  A quote.  Pick one.  Something inspirational.  Positive or negative.  I have a little 5x4 inch pad.  Lilac.  Ring bound.  A purple gel ink pen clipped within the metal ring.  Whenever I hear something I like, I grab that little book.  If I can find it.  It's filled with some real gems.  My gems.  The wise words of Churchill, Eleanor and Deepak.  The smartass comments of Marilyn, Jill and Diane.  I can't choose.

Instead, I reflect and I begin to question negative inspiration.  Huh?  That sounds completely oxymoronic.  Completely challenged to explain what my brain does grasp, my choice is obvious.  It fits who I am, or more accurately, it fits with this person into whom I've morphed.  It simply must be a negative inspirational quotation.  Those "quotations" which I generally hear as a wise crack worthy of a (mental) body slam OR a (fantasy visual) fist bloodying the mouth of the person who is spewing such stupidity are the statements that inspire me most.  Why?  They are the catalyst for change.

Oh How I Love To Hear This:  "At Least You Got A Good Cancer."  I'm throwing down my own challenge.  I can see some of your eye rolls.  I hear your groans.  I know there is an entire contingent of you looking at the screen attempting to say, "Bullshit!"  And, I know there is another contingent, primarily members of The Pink Ribbon Club nodding their heads in agreement.  Yes, Toto, we are in the land of people DO say some of the dumbest things and from my seat, those of us diagnosed with breast cancer seem to be on the receiving end of the things at the very top of the Dumbest Thing List.

A Good Cancer.  That's my inspiration quotation.  Any sentence containing those words..... Phrase it however it rings nicely in your ears.  If you've ever heard those words, kindly raise your hands and step to the left.  The symbolic left.  The militant side of the room.  If you've ever uttered those words of comfort to someone whose world was shattered, step aside.  You are standing in the way of progress.  You are our oppressors.  I am sure your words are not malicious and I believe you are well-intentioned but....

I'm using my Day Two Prompt to set the record straight.  I am speaking for myself and only myself.  Feel free to add your own comments.  I'm up for a lively conversation and I'm always open for healthy debate so if you feel the need to qualify the statement about "good cancer," I'm all ears.  Most of my friends are good listeners, too.  That is, however, when we aren't bitch blogging about something.  Like, oh, um, let's say being told we "got a good cancer."

Jody, who founded and moderates the #BCSM tweet chat answered that statement in the words of her oncologist who told her "THE. ONLY. GOOD. CANCER. IS. NO. CANCER."  and thankyouverymuchforthat.  Here are some things to consider the next time you feel the need to speak those words.  Stop.  Breathe.  Try to remember even ONE of these points.  And then, if you still feel the need, be my guest and tell me all about my good cancer.

  • That statement seems to allude to the fact that my "good cancer" is curable.  Correction:  Breast cancer is neither curable nor preventable.
  • Your envy over my "boob job" discounts the fact that my "boob job" is a daily reminder of my "good cancer" diagnosis.  
  • My "good cancer" thanks to early detection didn't buy me a Cancer Free Forever card.  Thirty percent of us with early diagnosis will become metastatic and that's incurable.  Nearly 100% of metastatic patients WILL die of their disease.  Some of us with this "good cancer" will fare better than others and live for many years.  The average time from metastatic diagnosis to death is rather short.  I'm not quoting a statistic at the risk of being incorrect.  I just know it's short and "just under three years" is what is popping into my head.
  • My "good cancer" yielded excellent results SO FAR but those long term, late onset issues that are the foundation of this blog are real.  Please don't demean us further with those, "I didn't have chemo, what's my excuse" when we are struggling to untangle the mess in some of our brains.
  • My "good cancer," five years post chemo, still scares me when, for example, I had a severe pain radiating from a very specific area in my lower back.  Yesterday.  It didn't "radiate" much beyond The Spot and when I finally gave in to the need for an opiate to manage the pain, I did a bout of mental gymnastics pleading to come up with some explanation.  A twisted yoga pose.  I lifted something that was just a bit too heavy.  When I came upon none, I spent the entire day in "It's Back Hell" .....  That never goes away.  Those thoughts. That's what a "good cancer" does to your mind. There's always a fear of that one rogue cell.  Attaching to something.  It's not a fear that cripples but it's something I deal with and I'm sure I'm not alone.  I KNOW I'm not alone.
I'm jumping off the Good Cancer Wagon.  NOW......Can I get the rest of you, and you know who you are, to please do the same?


  1. I hear you. Nope you're not alone.

    My quote was from Groucho - Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana. It reminds me of the absurdity of all this insane batsh1t.

    1. Hey Elaine...
      I was over at your blog. Two great posts!! I'm behind the eight ball here! Groucho-yes the absurdity and for me, grumpy, too!!!!

  2. There is so much truth in what you said about your back pain. Quite a few years back,
    I remember when I got a sciatica attack and went to Dr. Levy. He was a DO, and would not prescribe anything or touch me without a bone scan because of my "History". Well the bone scan was fine, but my mental state was not.
    And, I don't remember doing anything out of the ordinary to cause the sciatica. (Well, out of the ordinary for me) The wondering and fear follows every time something is out of sync. Especially at follow-up test times. It is at these times that I miss your Dad more than you can imagine. I can really empathize with you and all of your fellow bloggers. It is such an uphill battle we are all sharing. I'm voting every day for Metavivor & trying to get the word out to others. It's sad that many people still believe cancer will not touch them. Just someone else.

    In any case, I hope you are feeling better. Let me know.

    Love, Mom xoxoxo

    1. For whatever reason, my mom can not post comments on this blog. I just got in an email and I wanted to share it with everyone. I realized I can logout and post as anonymous....

      Thanks Mom... I think the message here is this.... even ALL THESE YEARS later, the moments that terrorize us, stay with us....

      I love you...

  3. Good morning my friend! At the same time I was diagnosed with BC, I was also diagnosed with Thyroid cancer. The DOCTOR said, "well if you're going to have cancer, that's the kind to get". I was pissed off... I told him that I'd rather not have any cancer, thank you very much.

    Had the thyroid removed, had a "hot" lymph node attached to the thyroid when they removed it. "Don't worry about the positive node. It's different than positive nodes and breast cancer" WHAT???? Now, at a follow up with doctor for thyroid 9 months later, I'm told, "Well to follow up on Stage 3 thyroid cancer we'd like to have a chest xray done. If thyroid cancer spreads, it usually spreads to the lungs" I wanted to scream at him, "I THOUGHT THIS WAS THE GOOD CANCER TO GET YOU IDIOT!!!".
    Anyway, that's my "good cancer" moment! As always, thanks for doing what you do!


  4. As ever, you have been eloquent and thoughtful and energetic and a great educator...thank you again for sharing!

  5. Thank you, AnneMarie, for this eloquent, much-needed post. Whenever I hear of breast cancer as the "good cancer," I want to vomit. People told me when I was diagnosed that at least it was breast cancer and something that wasn't more serious. ARGHHHHH!!!! Your points are all sound, and I do understand the paranoia. With every ache and pain that assails me, I always wonder....and then I'm always trying to reassure myself.

    Love this post. I'm sharing it.

  6. Ann Marie,

    Somehow I missed this whole daily challenge thing...maybe it's for the best.

    Ah yes, the "good cancer." I was told that too. Unbelievable really.

    And for the record, you are indeed a health activist and a darn good writer too. Keep at it! Great post.

  7. Yay! Am so happy you have joined this challenge - I am looking forward to seeing where it takes us. This was a great post indeed!

  8. Thanks to each of you! I'm sitting in the waiting area of the hospital. My son had minor surgery. Been a very long day. Surgeon just called. I can see him in recovery in about an hour. I learned a great lesson. I definitely do not like being on THIS side of the fence. xoxo


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