They say you need a big opening line to grab peoples' attention.
I HAVE CANCER.  How's that for a big opening?

If you're still reading, I'll assume it was a sufficiently big opening.

OK, the truth is...I'm lying.  I don't have cancer.  But the truer truth is that I am a cancer survivor...which, I think, just means that I was once diagnosed with cancer, received prolonged cancer treatments, the cancer went away, and I didn't die.

Not Dying = Surviving

However, if I find out tomorrow that I have cancer again (beit a reappearance of the cancer "I beat", or a new form of cancer altogether) and I theoretically die of that cancer, will I still be considered a cancer survivor, or will I simply be a procrastinating victim, or is there some sort of Statute of Limitations on survivor status?  And "victim" isn't the right word. The word 'victim' conjures up images of a bully's target or an icon of martyrdom.  Neither of which accurately captures or defines someone diagnosed with cancer.  Cancer isn't a bully.  Cancer does not discriminate the way a bully does.  Men and women get cancer.  Cancer attacks whites, blacks, yellows and browns.  Straight people get cancer, and so do gays (I don't know if trannies get cancer...but for argument sake, let's say they do).   Scholars and retards get cancer.  Killers and firemen, teachers and rapists, priests and rabbis and drug dealers and babies get cancer.  You know who gets cancer?  Oncologists get cancer.  How's that for a mind fuck?  None of these people are victims.  They are people.  You can't even say they're unlucky people.  Because some of these people will survive cancer.  Would you call a cancer survivor unlucky?  Or would you call them lucky?  Or would you just thank god it wasn't you?  (You'll notice god is not capitalized...that's another Blahg for another day).  Or are the ones who die of cancer early in it's stages unlucky, or would they be luckier to die after months and years and various remissions and reoccurances?

And to be a martyr implies that your fate is self-imposed.  Often to illuminate injustices, or to put a face on a larger plight.  A self-appointed victim.  In that light of thinking, a heavy smoker who gets cancer could be considered a martyr...or, more realistically, is simply a statistic.  Another 'I told you so'.  They were told time and time again that smoking will lead to cancer, yet they continue on unwavering in their habit, unconvinced of their mortality.  Mind you, I do not intend to come off as preachy or righteous toward idiots who smoke.  I had cancer...and I will still smoke a cigarette from time to time.  Does this make me more of an idiot than the idiot who never had cancer yet still smokes?  No.  Why?  Because Oncologists Get Cancer.  All it means is that anyone who smokes is an idiot because no good comes of it.  Except you do look cool, and it does give you a great excuse to go talk to those chicks outside who are also smoking.  Unless you're married...which I I'm just in it for the looking cool part.  So while I frown upon smoking as a habit (addictions are for the weak), I can understand smoking as a social crutch.  Sometimes peer-pressures persist for a reason.

So in retrospect, I do not feel as though I accomplished anything by "beating cancer" because, in all reality, I didn't try any more or any less than anyone who ever was or ever will be in my position.  The shit in my pants was just as brown as anyone else who was told they had cancer.  I just happened to have one of the good endings, and I'm thankful for it.  There's something naive about applauding the efforts of these disease fighters.  The doctors should be applauded.  They're the ones doing their homework.  I suppose, however, that their immense homes, fancy cars, and luxurious vacations are thanks enough.  That reward, however, is often less fulfilling than one might assume on the surface, given the 3 hours a week they get to spend with their families, and the daily medical setbacks and patient deaths that keep their egos in check.  But I can tell you from humbling experience, it's difficult to graciously accept the congratulations and 'job well done' back slaps from others when you know there's nothing you did that the 8-year old leukemia fighter isn't doing, and doing in spades.  Good fortune just happened to smile upon you, a few treatments after fate gave you an atomic wedgie.

I can tell you from experience, the best thing you can do is not label the person as lucky or unlucky....either way, the person doesn't want to hear your epiphany about their condition.  Don't pity them and don't assume they want to talk about what they're going through, or about how they're feeling.  Sometimes, the best thing you can do is to be normal, while letting it be known, subtly, that you're there for them if they need you. 

And finally, I'd like to take this opportunity to propose the discontinuation of the practice of applauding for people at awards shows, talk shows, or even in some business and social events, who have "beaten" cancer, or are actively fighting cancer, or any other disease for that matter.  On the surface, there's something disingenuous about it.  Just like you wouldn't 'Boo' the funeral of a cancer succomber, it seems detached and impersonal to cheer someone who has been lucky enough not to die from it...yet.  I'll bet that person would prefer not to be isolated and publicly examined.  Rather, I'll bet they'd prefer cards, emails, gift baskets, or gift certificates to pay for their chemo or radiation treatments from their loved ones and admirers.  Often times, an Honorary Award recipient will be given prestigious recognition for a life's work just, coincidently, as their life is being tapped-out by some unforgiving disease.  What better time than that to thrust them into the spotlight?  Giving the organizer a chance to feel better about themselves for arranging this opportunity.  It's a very political act for a very non-democratic disease. 

That being said, there's some respect that an individual actively fighting a disease deserves and earns by being a spokesperson for the disease.  They do it with humility and often with no vanity.

If you want to applaud these people - these fighters: the family members, the friends, the celebrities, the bums, the moguls, the nobodies, the oncologists, and the children on Earth born and unborn: DONATE TOWARDS RESEARCH AND SUPPORT

Pick your disease, pick you cause.

My cause is cancer, and I'm donating to the fundraiser my wife is supporting:
Cycle for Survival 2010, the indoor cycling event benefiting research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (a hospital close to my heart...and optic nerve).

If you'd like to donate time or money as well, please visit her fundraising site:

And I apologize for the sales pitch.

Blah Blah Blahg!
Lindsey Schedler
1/22/2010 09:38:15 am

Congrats on the launch of the blahg baby :) It's awesome and we all can't wait to read more. I'm sure more people than just me have looked at it. I mean, at least one or two.

1/23/2010 12:30:54 am

I am so proud to be your Godmother. Your talents take my breath away.

1/25/2010 10:06:45 pm

Well written and inspiring. I think you may finally have found something you are great at. I mean besides being handsome and diving off cliffs.

1/25/2010 10:10:39 pm

Nicely done. You have yet one more talent. I'm still boycotting your birthday though.


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