Okay, had a totally different topic in mind this morning. Then I read my good friend Mike Terrill’s (wranglersrear here on wordpress) blog for today. He put the warning in the title that it would raise blood pressure – it may not have been but for some reason I think he put that there for my benefit. There are few things that will raise my ire more than ignorance. Well, let me back up. Yesterday Mike came on in the group, Curing Cancer With A Smile, in what southerners call a high state of piss off. Seems someone who had been allowed into the group had sent him a rather rude, ignorant personal message. I’m not going to perjure Mike’s blog and copy it here, but the jist was that basically you are full of cow patties and I don’t think you are the least bit sick and I hope that you get sick because you are lying about being sick. I said it was rude and ignorant, didn’t I?
Okay, so I didn’t get to read the exact message until this morning when it was posted in the blog – but the fact that someone would even do this had me simmering all day yesterday. Woke up this morning, still rather perturbed – mainly because this is not a new thing. It’s a running thought, in varying degrees, with all cancer patients – all patients with life changing illnesses, really. Friends, and in some cases even family, shy away – in some cases RUN – when you get sick. There have been cases, fairly recent, involving people swindling others out of money by faking a terminal illness for either themselves or even worse, their child. Every time I see one of these fraudulent stories, I cringe, because all it does is make necessary assistance that much harder for those who truly need it. As of just a few minutes ago, CCWS is at 1,532 members. Not all have cancer, many are caregivers, or just very caring souls who are there to support our fighters. Our members come from every possible walk of life – rich, poor, somewhere in between, young, more experienced, grandparents, parents, married, divorced, religious or not. The support, love, and sense of closeness is unparalleled. The goal of cancer awareness is being reached, one person at a time, by destroying one myth after another. Then a message like this crops up. BAM! This is exactly what awareness is all about – teaching those who are convinced that cancer is just a walk in the park – go to the doctor, have a surgery, take a few pills, live another 40 years – that there is still much left to do, that cancer is still killing MILLIONS each year – and in most cases it’s not you just don’t wake up in the morning. Its pain, agony, drugs, surgery, more pain, more drugs, drugs that make you sicker than you can even imagine to try to subdue pain that no human being should ever have to endure. Its watching someone you love scream for the end, and even though you don’t want them to die you are secretly wishing for it to, because it is tearing your heart and soul to shreds to see them in such unfathomable pain. It is crying silent tears over your child who will, because of this insidious monster, never grow up, never graduate, never marry. It is the tears you cry when you are all alone because you don’t want your loved one to know just how much you really hurt for them and with them.
It’s not all horror – even though the horror is always simmering right below the surface. There are smiles. There are days the cancer patient feels almost normal! There is REMISSION! Guess what, friends and neighbors – use of the word remission means simply inactive – not gone. There are days when the cancer patient simply shoves the cancer, the side effects, the pain, down into an before unknown recess and decides that today, they are going to LIVE. They always pay for that decision. The cancer gets really really ticked off that it has had its spotlight taken away, and it exerts revenge. But the cancer patient doesn’t care, because they get tired of life revolving around medicines, naps, vomiting spells, pain, and doctor visits. It is worth it to make a happy memory in amongst the sheer hell that is cancer.
There are types of cancer that are even more cruel, in some ways, because they don’t come out with the blazing red TERMINAL stamped on them. They are genetic, they are “curable”, they are recurrent. They are HELL. They sit back, leaving their “victim” to lead what they think is a normal life. Then BOOM – back they come, to create hate and discontent, bringing with them side effects from medications, possibly more surgeries, only to go back to their “dormant” state for a while. I saw a post the other day, not in the group, that “my mom’s breast cancer is back after 25 years”. Wow. Talk about false security. If you are lucky, you get a couple of weeks between the recovery from the last surgery and the discovery of the next “spot”. Or what about those nasty little buggers that won’t quite kill you, but rather just live in your system, requiring medication daily for the next 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years?
So, according to the poor, misinformed soul who decided to blast a man nearing the end of a double terminal journey with ignorant maliciousness, our group is full of out of work, lazy, hypochondriacs. REALLY????? Guess you missed the post about how do I keep my full-time job even with chemotherapy appointments? Or what about the one who went back to work some 3 days after surgery? Yep, laziness in its prime. REALLY?? Can you read ENGLISH??? Oh and then you complained about people trying to get free stuff they probably didn’t really need. DO YOU THINK FOOD IS A LUXURY??????????? MEDICINE??????? A ROOF OVER YOUR HEAD????????
I won’t touch the worst, most offensive thing you did – and that was wish that a God you do not believe in would give cancer to one of your fellow human beings. There are people on this planet whom I have no use for. There are people who have hurt me beyond words with their words or actions. There are people who I simply dislike. I WOULD NEVER WISH FOR ANY OF THEM, NOT EVEN THE LOWEST SCUM, TO GET CANCER!!!!!!!!! That statement in and of itself proves you have no clue.
So, are ya ticked off yet???? Mildly perturbed???? Disturbed??? YOU SHOULD BE!!! The only way to end hateful ignorance is knowledge. The road to knowledge is awareness. Volunteer, google, help, LEARN. Even if you don’t have cancer, you may have another insidious, life changing, life altering, or terminal illness. You may be blessed with good health. If you are, protect it. If you have cancer or any other disease, or combination of diseases, take care of yourself first, learn all you can about your conditions, and FIGHT! It would be great if ignorance was not a condition that you have to fight as well as your illness. But since it is, enlist your friends, your family, your health care providers, the cashier at the grocery store, ANYONE YOU COME IN CONTACT WITH! Spread awareness. When someone asks you about your condition – be prepared to tell them! Not a mumbled “i have cancer”! Wear a neon pink shirt, for crying out loud (if your personality permits). TALK, TYPE, POST, BLOG – whatever is your way of preferred communication. Do all of the above. Simply share blogs on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest, via email. IGNORANCE IS A FORM OF BULLYING! It HURTS. If you witness an act of ignorance, politely step in. I’m not advocating you get yourself in the need for bail money. But don’t be afraid to speak your mind! A simple, “excuse me, you are incorrect in your assumption” is usually sufficient to get someone’s attention. In some cases, it is simply a matter of they didn’t know. In others it is a case of they don’t really want to know, or they have their own little sugar spun castles in their mind where they dream cancer exists with smiles and laughter. But, look at this, friends and neighbors – IGNORE has the first same 5 letters as IGNORANCE!!!!!!!! If you pretend the snide remark was not made, if you let misconceptions continue – you are part of the problem! AWARENESS!!!!!!! Shine the light of truth – even if the truth is ugly. Don’t put makeup and pretty clothes on it. Don’t let your disease make you a hermit! USE IT!!!!! Teach others to hate the disease, not the one who has it! How you say? By LIVING! Just because you may have a death sentence, you ain’t dead yet!!!! Put on your best doo rag, grab that walker, and flaunt the fact that despite CANCER’s best efforts, you are still around! Brings to mind a saying from childhood “you ain’t the boss of me”. Well, be it cancer, or any other life changing illness, IT AIN’T THE BOSS OF YOU! It may dictate some things – like you can’t walk as far as you used to be able to, or maybe you can’t walk at all. To quote a cartoon hero of my children’s youth “The Power Is YOURS”! If you don’t have an illness – use your abilities to help those who do. Volunteer. If you can give, do so. Donate blood. Go clean somebody’s house for them. Go mow a yard. Go clean out a flowerbed. Get a group together and do some minor repairs for someone who can’t do them anymore. Offer to drive someone to a treatment. COMPASSION. Babysit someone’s children so they can go to a doctor appointment – or maybe just a beauty shop appointment. If you have the ability – offer to do someone’s hair or nails for them – or maybe pay to have them done. Pick up the phone for a quick “hey, I was thinking about you”.
AWARENESS!!!! The only stupid question is the one not asked. AWARENESS!!!!! Cancer is NOT contagious!!!! AWARENESS!!!! Cancer SUCKS!!!! AWARENESS!!!! It’s hard to ask for help when you are treated like a leper for it!!!! AWARENESS!!!! It is better to give than to receive!!!! AWARENESS!!!!!
Have my Awareness bug bit you yet??? It HAS???? Good! What are you going to do about it??? I’ll give you your first step. You have read my words. Now please share them so that others may, as well.