Who Are We To Judge? There Are No Rules For Living With Cancer

This blog follows from one posted today at The Conversation and also at Huffington Post.  Here are a few extra thoughts.

When I found a suspicious lump in my right breast, what I would have given to read Lisa Adams’ controversial blog and Twitter feed about living with that disease.  I was thirty when I first went to a doctor about it, thirty-two when the diagnosis finally came — in disbelief, angry at myself for not having insisted on a mammogram when I sensed the lump had grown, worried about my father’s heart and my mother’s nerves, wondering if I would ever have children, and if my career, perhaps my life, was over.  And those thoughts were only the ones I had immediately subsequent to the diagnosis.

My college students cried when they learned.  I cheered them up.  My humor that first year was off the charts — part of coping.  Colleagues at the University of Connecticut refused to let me drive myself to treatment.  Knowing I’d go alone, they showed up early at my home each morning to drive an hour, sit unsettled with me and other cancer patients, keep me company, and drive me back home.

I was interviewed frequently that year about research I’d conducted that was receiving a lot of national and international press coverage.  I either didn’t mention cancer or asked, if they knew about it, that they not mention it in the articles.  That was my choice at the time for a variety of reasons that aren’t relevant now.

Lisa Adams’ struggle is in a different time and she is her own person.  Breast cancer is more commonly discussed now.  There are many support groups and medical advice is widely available.  Still, it’s a scary thing.  From the number of followers she has, it’s evident that patients and their families and friends want the kind of information she provides.  Her postings of photos are lovely and inspiring.  She shares news of cancer treatments and blogs about topics important to people coping with cancer.

I wish her the best and hope that the conversation generated by criticism of her blog and tweets will be considered a small moment among many ones of support, gratitude and love.

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2 Responses to Who Are We To Judge? There Are No Rules For Living With Cancer

  1. Ted Groves says:

    I’m so glad that you’re calling attention to this discussion. Cancer is a challenge to which one is forced to rise. “Rise” can mean many things but until you’ve heard the words, “It’s cancer,” it’s impossible to know how you’d react. As a two time cancer patient I’ve had the experience of hearing those words twice, each time catastrophic in its own way. I’ve learned that crucial, meaningful support comes from many sources and topping the list is my circle of fellow cancer patients. From chemo agony to what to tell our kids to discussing suicide, we understand each other, and trust each other. We share our experiences through our blogs (mine is: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/theodoregroves), and the strength and inspiration we exchange is very real. Nobody is right or wrong, or better or worse at describing and trying to understand cancer. But we are sincere. And for that, we are beyond criticism.

    • admin says:

      Ted: Thank you very much. I just stopped by your blog. Sincerity is part of what makes it so helpful. No one chooses this, that’s for sure. And it is very frightening and has long-term effects — physical and emotional. You’re helping other cancer patients with that. It’s a gift. I bet we’d have a lot to talk about. Be well. Keep writing. Kathleen

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