A breast cancer survivor shares her experiences with the BRCA gene.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Cancer Doesn't Mean Carte Blanch

I'd like to take a moment and turn into your Sunday School teacher, since we all need a lecture now and then.

Picture me pointing my finger and raising my eyebrows--and my voice--and taking on an admonishing tone. Because this is what I'd like to say:

Although cancer can be cruel, heartbreaking and devastating, and can rip you apart physically, emotionally and spiritually...

And although cancer makes you face challenges you never envisioned, and can get the best of us when we're feeling weak and vulnerable...

And although the world may not be as caring and comforting as you need it to be at the time...

And although you have to endure many rough days, tough decisions, scary thoughts and lonely nights...

Cancer does not give any of us the right to act anyway we want to. In other words, it doesn't give us permission to be a jerk.

Now, I --above all people--have my moments. Trust me. I can be gnarly and irritated. Irrational and outspoken. Demanding and downright difficult. But, typically, I come around to realizing that I'm on the wrong side, and try to apologize and make amends for those times when I'm less than angelic.

But, I've also known people who are cancer survivors --or continue to battle cancer long-term--who seem to feel that having cancer somehow gives them carte blanch to treat everyone like dirt. And it doesn't.

Despite the rotten behavior you sometimes run into, I've found that most of the time, people go out of their way to show compassion and kindness to us who are suffering from cancer. As a matter of fact, I've experienced people going overboard to extend love and help.

At the same time, I also know people with cancer, who think they have an excuse to lash out at the world. To be intentionally hurtful and mean-spirited.

But they are confusing cancer with another disease entirely...one with a completely different cure.

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