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15 Shitty Things #Cancer Has Taught Me #breastcancer #womenshealth #advocacy #cancersucks

15 Shitty Things Cancer Has Taught Me

As you likely know by now, one of my top cancer pet peeves is the expectation out there that somehow cancer miraculously transforms you into a better version of your former self. You know, there are all those life lessons to learn.

Sure, being diagnosed with cancer makes you an unlucky soul, but at least your diagnosis also automatically granted you enrollment into the Cancer Enlightenment Program, which undoubtedly, you will benefit from.

If not, why not?

(The above is supposed to be sarcasm.)

This line of thinking sort of implies that somehow you needed this experience to get your priorities straight.

Again, there are all those life lessons to learn and epiphanies to be had.

If the transformation theory works for you, fine. But for me, all that enlightenment malarkey is total BS.

I started working on this post a couple years ago, so t’s been sitting in a folder for quite some time. (This is actually a watered-down version.) I hesitate to publish certain posts. This is one of them.


Because it’s a push-back sort of piece that perhaps some will not appreciate. It’s meant to be tongue-in-cheek. Sort of. Not everyone will appreciate my dry humor. Or sarcasm. It’s okay if you don’t.

Don’t take this post too seriously, okay? Then again…

So, you’ve been forewarned.

Enough with the stalling, here we go.

15 shitty things cancer has taught me:

1. I’ve pretty much failed the Cancer Enlightenment Program. Wait, not pretty much. I have failed it.

No grand lessons here. No epiphany. No re-shuffling of priorities. Still me. Not better. Probably worse. But still standing!

2. Being a cancer rebel is still more or less frowned upon. People tend to prefer conformity in (Pink) Cancer Land too.

Stirring things up is still oftentimes a no-no. Don’t make waves is probably the safer course.

3. If it looks like you haven’t moved on, people get uncomfortable. And judgmental. They might even start giving you that raised eyebrow look. (Have you been given the look? If not, be patient. You’ll likely get it.)

Oh sure, you’re allowed a certain amount of time to get over the messy parts, (like a year maybe) but then, it’s time to get on with it, honey. Same deal with grief, btw.

So, at nine years out now, I’ve clearly missed the getting over it deadline. Just one more reason for my big fat “F” in the Cancer Enlightenment Program.

4. Getting your breasts amputated and getting a “free” boob job is still sometimes considered a perk of breast cancer.


I still can’t believe this one.

You might want to read, Ten Reasons Why Breast Reconstruction Is Not a Boob Job!

5. Embrace the pink sisterhood like your life depends on it or else you are doing breast cancer all wrong.

Be strong. Act brave. Keep smiling. Keep your whining to a minimum. Prove you can still do it all. (like you ever could.) And on and on and on…

6. It’s probably best to keep your non-varnished cancer truths under-wraps.

Most people can’t handle the truth. Heck, they don’t even want to hear it.

7. If you refuse to do #6, you will likely be called negative.

So be it. I’ve been called worse.

8. Cancer makes you old before your time.

It just does. And the medical community sometimes isn’t helpful when they no longer know what to do with you, so they start implying that perhaps your long-term side effects and other issues you’re complaining about are probably just normal aging. And when you start realizing they could be right, you feel, well, even older.

(No wonder the elderly often get frustrated. When you’re old, you’re supposed to just suck it up and put up with shit?)

Of course, all this is still better than the alternative.

9. You will likely think of your life in terms of before cancer and after cancer from diagnosis day on out. Or at least I do. Dear Hubby does too.

For some of us, there was also life with breasts and now life without breasts. Pretty sure, deep down Dear Hubby thinks this way too, though he’s too kind to mention it.

Sure, I’ve got a reconstructed chest, but let me tell you, it is nothing like the real deal. Nothing.

10. Cancer is expensive, and I’m lucky to have decent insurance.

I always knew cancer treatment wasn’t cheap, but until you need it yourself, it’s hard to imagine the financial burden.

And then, there is the career upheaval. Another expense of a different sort.

11. Learning your cancer is hereditary sucks.

Now, I not only have to worry about myself, I also have to worry about family members. Cancer sucks. Period.

12. The blame game is still very much alive and well.

All those “did you” questions still lurk.

And now, there are new ones. I call these the “are you now” questions. Are you eating healthier now? Are you exercising more now? Are you still having that glass of wine now? And so on.

(Like I was living recklessly before with no regard to my lifestyle choices and sorta deserved all this.)

13. It’s never over even though many around you might believe, even insist, that it is. Or should be.

My one-word response, mirrors.

14. Cancer brings fatigue.

No need to say more, right?

15. The shittiest thing of all, of course, is that people you care about die from metastatic breast cancer. And the grief is real for those who die that you’ve never met in person too.

Many don’t understand how you can grieve for people you’ve never actually met. But you do. And it’s heartbreaking. Sometimes, I ask myself why I remain online at all.

But then I do. Because I can’t imagine not.

So, there you have 15 shitty things cancer has taught me. I’m sure there are more, but that oughta do for now. Maybe I’ll write a part 2 sometime. Or not.

If you haven’t yet written down some shitty things you’ve learned from cancer, I highly recommend that you do. It’s therapeutic.

I gotta say, writing this post and then publishing it, too, actually made me feel pretty darn good.

Turns out, the Positivity Pushers don’t know everything.

The Cancer Enlightenment Program be damned!

Now, it’s YOUR turn to share one or two shitty things cancer has taught you.

(If you don’t, I’m gonna look bad.) 

It’ll feel good. I promise.

Ready. Set. Go!

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Share a shitty thing or two that cancer has taught you.

Do you sometimes feel pressured to stay positive?

Do you ever feel like you’re expected to “find the good” in your cancer diagnosis?

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15 Shitty Things #Cancer Has Taught Me #breastcancer #cancersucks #womenshealth #advocacy

162 thoughts to “15 Shitty Things Cancer Has Taught Me”

  1. I’ve learned that cancer is the “gift” that keeps on giving. Exemestane caused weakness in my bones, which most likely played a significant part of me breaking my wrist 9 months ago (first broken bone in my life) which led to ongoing lymphedema and limited use of my left hand, and the lymphedema played a part in my newest visitor, cellulitis, which happened three weeks ago. Wondering where the cancer voyage will take me next. That’s pretty shitty.

    I never expected to not regain my original strength or energy. That’s pretty shitty.

    My left nipple sits completely on the underside of my breast, not visible to me unless I pull the remaining part of my breast way up to take a look. That’s pretty shitty, to have a deformed breast. I am thankful that I do have some of it left, I really am. But it ain’t nothing like the old one.

    1. I hear you on that. My left nipple now faces left and what’s left of my breast is dented and a weird shade of light brown (only three weeks post radiation so maybe that’s not permanent). I’m 4 months post-op and it still hurts EVERY day. These things are pretty shitty.

      1. Thank you for sharing… I also have a dented breast… a divot was taken…and I never actually SAID that before! “Dented breast”… I am going to use that description!

        1. For too long you’re lost in the fog. Fatigue is not the word that describes the physical, mental and emotional exhausting life you live.
          Exhaustipated- too tired to give a crap.
          No one will ever understand unless you live it.

          1. Exactly right Sharon. No-one tells you the horrors of the aftermarth. No-one really understands what you are going through. It can be really lonely. That’s why when you find these sites its good to just have a big whinge because no-one here is going to tell you to “think positive thoughts”. Or, suck it up, you’re alive, arent’ you? Or, what my husband kept constantly saying like, “you’ll be fine” like I had some kind of cold or something. My sister famously told me that my cancer was the elephant in the room! OMG! So, here, feel free to tell it how it is. We all understand. xx

          2. Yes, I STAY tired. Everything I do is a result of me HAVING to,” PUSH” myself to do it. It helps when I take vitamins & eat right… but I get,” tired” of remembering to take them.
            EVERYTHING…. I don’t do correctly becomes one more,” guilt trip” of a,” never-ending “ list of things that I,” SHOULD” do!
            I feel lazy, exhausted, negative, sorry and just a lack of,” Self-Motivation “!
            I don’t want friends because they’ll find out what how much of a loser I am… TODAY. Tomorrow will probably be better… but then there’s Tomorrow again.
            I take antidepressants, but they say it’s because I have anxiety and depression. I always wonder if I had it,”PRE-Cancer” or I got it as a “gift” from my cancer journey.
            So… this is my SHITTY version of how 6 cancers(3 different types… ,” Helped” me.

          3. I had such a hard time with radiation therapy my nipple literally stuck to the back of my tshirt and came off. I now get fluid roughly 3 litters every six months drained from my lung from radiation damage oh yeah dont forget constant phenomena. Also my breast turned burgandy and then it spread down my arm. They flooded my body with antibiotics and i ended up resistant to thoose . By then my breast and arm was turning black. So the surgeon decides to puncture my breast measure 2 feet of gauze around his hand and stuff it into my breast . Sent me home with a cellulitis diagnosis and explained to me that id have to pull a quarter inch of gauze out every day until i pull it all out and then the infection should be gone. From the infection i ended up with lyphadema……

          4. I feel most people that have not been through BC can’t even comprehend how it affects your life. My own daughters don’t get it. I was thinking it was that I was not bouncing back from surgery/radiation not to mention I went three months with open wounds waiting for new skin to grow to cover the inside muscle of my chest. Then came incisional hernia operation scheduled this week. I can go to a quick doctors appointment and grocery store then I am exhausted. I am wondering how long it takes to bounce back? it has been 8 months since surgery. I want to be positive but I curse more now (when I am alone). LOL. Oh, this is the second bout with BC the first was lumpectomy left breast 2016 It was also in right breast but undetected. Results bi-lateral mastectomy and reconstruction surgery. By the time it was discovered in right breast it was stage three.
            And people think you are complaining. I am losing my patience.

        2. I have learned that because people dont see your scars and your hair started growing back that means everything is on the up and up. They don’t see the extensive scarring from a failed immediate reconstruction. They dont see the pain I still have every single day.
          I’ve learned I will never be able to fully experience playing with my 3 year old. They scraped my pectoral muscles off my chest. Throwing a baseball, basketball, volleyball, any ball….nope. I couldn’t even finish a corn hole game.
          I have also learned that people whom may have been great support during the “difficult” times, start to back off if they dont think you have progressed enough emotionally. Gotta be positive right?
          I have learned that I am very good at making sure everyone but myself feels comfortable. Make sure to throw out a self deprecating joke when it gets too serious. That always lightens their mood.

          1. So true Jessica. When someone pushes to know how I am doing, I can only go into “light” detail just so long, until I lose them. And then we never have anything close to that conversation again. I lost a dear friend to breast cancer about 5 years ago and I remember being on the other side of the conversation. There was no way I could have known back then what this feels like today after hearing the words “you have cancer”, two lumpectomies, mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation and now maintenance chemo. She had these feeling, I just didn’t know what they were. So I have found that we need to talk to each other and tell our stories, so that we can know that we are not the only ones feeling them. ♥

    2. Nancie, Yep, all those things you mentioned are pretty darn shitty. The “gift” that keeps on giving indeed. Thank you for sharing.

      1. First of all, thank you for talking about the reality of cancer. As you have stated, far too many articles promote that Wonder Woman you’re supposed to become. Accompanying photos show smiling, “pretty” women with a great make up job. (lol) It’s amazing how cute they all look in their do rags!

        After each stage (diagnosis, surgery & radiation), I was waiting for the “epiphany” that never happened. What I had/have instead was fatigue & lack of motivation that never seems to go away.

        In addition to all that has been mentioned, what was shitty for me was the “loss” of friends and family. People who ghosted after I relayed my diagnosis. I have friend who I called the sister I never had. She lives 5 states away now, but we have always had regular phone calls, emails & texts. Now I never hear from her unless I initiate contact. She didn’t call, send a card, nothing, post surgery. That hurt a lot.

        1. Hi Eileen,
          I feel your pain! I went through a similar experience..when I had my Bilateral Mastectomy in April 2019 my friend from CA driver over here to Arizona and stayed with me for a week. I was so very grateful. When she went back to CA we stayed in touch, Thanksgiving we texted and talked and that was the last I heard from her! She has completely ghosted me and gone MIA on me. Very hurtful and sad considering she kept saying ” I’m here for you no matter what”…and we have been friends for over 15 years!:( I’m so sorry your friend has done this to you and your friendship, especially Considering everything you have going on. Sending you lots of love.

        2. Eileen so sorry to hear you experienced that from a close friend. Hard to work out if people like your friend just can’t cope with the emotional trauma so run away or are so shallow as to not want the drama. So many people these days just want to surround themselves with positivity. Again that is just shallowness because life is not like that. Either way you are so much better off without her. It is very difficult finding real people these days. Woman of substance are definitely out there. If you find one hang on to her. Women of substance never run away when their friend is in need and especially if battling cancer.
          One of the things life teaches us when faced with battling cancer is we really are alone. No-one else understands what we are going through what to say or how to help so we lose many friends. If we have a good support system around us that’s a bonus.
          That’s why sites like BCNA and chat groups such as this is where we draw strength. Even my husband who I know loves me dearly treated my entire breast cancer journey like I had bad head cold. You have to “find your people” and let the runners, run…

          1. Thanks Sue. I will say I am fortunate to have my adult daughter who lives just 5 minutes away. She has been my rock. She is definitely worth the 29 hours of labor I put into birthing her! (lol) Hope you have found your people too!

          1. Thanks so much Nancy. I’ll read that “epiphany” article shortly. I’ve enjoyed some of your other articles as well, and just downloaded “Cancer Was Not a Gift & It Didn’t Make Me a Better Person: A memoir about cancer as I know it “. I’ve already blown through Chapter 1.

            It’s so refreshing to see so many others (yourself included!) that share a similar opinion. Thanks again!

  2. Well,ok. I pick D, all of the above. I haven’t found anything positive about this entire experience and I refuse to pretend otherwise. And when I see the commercials on tv for meds for MBC and all the side effects which we know to be true, my heart bleeds for the women taking them. This is quality of life?? I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do it, but I also swore I’d never do chemo. There are no good answers. There are no promises. There are no positives except that we’re still here watching our families grow. Period.

    1. Donna, Other than meeting some wonderful people, I haven’t found anything positive either. Guess you and I are on the same page there. And oh my gosh, those commercials. What bugs me most about them is how the women always looks so “fine”. The commercials don’t seem very reality based, and yes, those side effects…But yes, we’re still here watching our families grow. That is a positive indeed. Thank you for adding your insights.

      1. I agree about everything you said! I am now 15 years out but not over it yet. My life is definitely not the same as far as energy, exercise, etc part of it is that I am older ( I did survive) and part is not. Like the weight I’ve gained. My body has totally transformed from this experience and not for the better. When this happened to me I was 41, in good shape, part of a Ssiling crew and only weighed 124 lbs. Now, I weigh 171 lbs. I don’t recognize myself when I look in the mirror. I am thankful that I survived but this has been hard to handle. Maybe I’m just vain. Cancer treatment killed my metabolism, I’m still trying to get it back. I could go on but I won’t. Thanks for writing your blog.

    2. Yep breast cancer keeps on giving! 19 years surviving aggressive breast cancer only to be diagnosed in 2012 with dilated cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure most likely long term effect of chemotherapy drugs ( no other cause found)!

    3. Girls, I can just say try to be proactive with your care! We didn’t choose this for ourselves breast cancer 2016,chemo bi-laterial surgery, radiation, expanders, reconstruction, nipple tat, MBC dia. Feb this year! It sucks! Just Thank ful for every day that I wake up! Life is to treasured with those we Love! The rest is in God’s hands

  3. YES. I am generally pretty positive, but I was just compiling a similar list in my head this morning. The trigger was that I would like to become self-employed but worry about getting good enough health insurance. BLAH.

    1. Ashley, Yes, BLAH. It’s terrible that people need to worry about getting good enough health insurance. Where are our priorities? Don’t get me started…I hope you can make self-employment work, if that’s what you want. Good luck.

    2. Health insurance. Yep. Wouldn’t it be nice to take all these epiphanies and our “strength” and do something we love. Then “it was worth it”…..

      And have no or incredibly expensive insurance to cover the absolute certanty that you will need it. “Non-cancers” don’t understand that we think about this stuff way more than they ever will.

  4. This is your best all-time article, Nancy! I can identify with many of your points, but am stuck on #8. With permanent residual aches and pains and a leg full of large blood clots secondary to taking Tamoxifen (after trying to tolerate aromatase inhibitors for 4 years). I feel like a has-been. I cannot do so many things I want to do and have to work hard at feeling grateful for even being alive. This too shall pass, but am also really tired of hearing all the “stay positive” cheerleaders out there.
    We are each unique and will develop our own coping mechanisms on our own timeline. I’ve had great support from my husband and friends, but wish the medical community could develop better ways to treat the pain, the fatigue, the anxiety and the rest of the long term side effects of the treatment.
    Currently trying ‘chair yoga’ and hoping that helps to increase my strength and stamina.
    I am not a groupie person, so I can’t tell you how much I have appreciated your blog, Nancy! The variety of subjects you offer and the fact I can read them where and when I want to are perfect for me. Thank you!

    1. Jan, I’m glad you appreciate this post. As I mentioned, I hesitated to publish it. I’m sorry you have all those issues and can’t do all that you’d like. And yes, the stay positive cheerleaders do get annoying. I’m wondering if you participated in the survey I wrote about last week. Here’s the link in case you missed it: Btw, I am not a groupie person either. Thank you for your kind words about the blog. I sincerely appreciate them. Thank you for reading and taking time to share.

      1. Thank you, Nancy. I did participate in the survey/study and I also sent it to 3 of my friends who have also had breast cancer, hoping they would choose to participate also.
        Had my annual mammogram last week and got the results today. All is good! Do love good news.

  5. Thanks for this post Nancy, I agree and certainly relate to what you write. Cancer has taught me so many shitty things I’d have to write a book! (I am trying to do that). If I had known the pitfalls and had the knowledge learned from my cancer ordeal *before I got the diagnosis* I could have avoided some of the shitty things. We learn a lot from each other’s experiences so I think sharing our stories and experiences is helpful to others and healing to ourselves.

    1. Rosalee, I am glad to hear you are writing a book! We could certainly use a few more reality-based cancer books out there. We do indeed learn a lot from each other’s experiences – cancer related or not. Thank you for sharing and good luck with your book.

  6. I’m right there with you. Can’t be positive about what is actively trying to kill me. Cancer is shitty. Period.

  7. So, I paid a fair amount of money and experienced an even greater amount of pain and hassle to keep my hair through chemo. Yeah, some of it was vanity, but most of why I chose this path was so not every single person who looked at me could immediately tell I was sick, whether they knew me or not. Well, it has backfired a bit, I think. Even though I’m still in active treatment, everyone acts as if I’m “back to normal.” They treat me as if I can do everything as well and with as much energy as I had before. Heck, I can barely walk after sitting for even 15 minutes or often times cannot even open the easiest of product packaging and am exhausted before I even get to work in the morning. No easy way to remind people of the situation…you either are labeled a complainer or a negative Nellie.

    1. Kim, I hear you. It’s hard when people expect you and everything else to be as before. Nothing about cancer is easy, that’s for sure. Just do the best you can, day by day. And don’t worry about being labeled. Speaking your truths does not make you a complainer. Btw, I’ve been called Negative Nancy. So be it. Thank you for sharing.

    2. Hi Kim,
      I also paid to keep my hair and I agree with u 100%!! It’s a blessing and a curse. I just finished Taxol on 8/23 and now have Herceptin/Perjeta every three was for an entire year. I have been trying to get some financial help for myself. My original application got denied but was told I could appeal. Then I asked Oncologists office for a letter stating how.long my entire treatments would be..they wasted 8 weeks just to give some crappy letter. I then got an attorney and case mgr involved and they sent me forms that if my DOCTOR WILL SIGN IT I WOULD have an excellent chance of getting my benefits approved!!! I just saw him on Friday 8/30/2019 and yep..HE REFUSED TO SIGN it for me:( I am.just completely heartbroken and sick of everyone looking at me b/c I STILL HAVE MY HAIR that “I’m healthy” and as everyone has been saying I should be doing way better than I am!! So heartwrenching and painful. So YES Kim…I do COMPLETELY understand your whole situation and my heart goes out to you dear sweet soul.
      Much love and hugs and prayers for you..xoxo

  8. Nancy ~ I have read your blog over the last year and a half of my breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. Your words and those of your faithful readers are a beacon of light in a dark place. The truth, the wisdom, the humor and the pain all come together as a healing balm for our wounded souls. Thank you from my heart ❤️Liz H.

  9. I agree with all the shitty list you present! And I really detest those telling me, “Well, at your age, what do you expect?” to my complaints of all the severe joint and muscle pain, exhaustion and fatigue, weakness, hair loss on my head and hair growth on my face, etc. etc.!! I went from age 68 to 98 in just a few short years, s/p cancer treatment and Arimidex!! I can barely stand up and walk even short distances now. It is a major undertaking to clean house, walk to the mailbox, shop for groceries and so on! I worked for years and years in long-term care. Specialized in gerontology nursing. I know that you don’t go to bed in good physical shape one day and then wake up the next morning, ready to call it quits due to sudden and extreme physical loss, except for those of us with cancer.

    1. I soooooo needed to read this post and these comments today. I am just shy of two months post bilateral mastectomy and am lucky to be 100% cancer free with no need for follow up treatments. But reconstruction and physical therapy and I ended up back in surgery 2 weeks ago and had to have the right expander removed/replaced. And I still went back to work last work. Why??? Because I felt guilty. I’m exhausted, I feel self conscious and I’m pissed. So the shitty thing cancer has taught me.. cancer free does NOT equal cured.

  10. A shitty thing cancer taught me: I am not who I thought I was. Not as strong,not as steady, not as smart. I’ll never have the same confidence again that I had in my b.c. (before cancer) life. It got cut out of me somehow.

    Shitty thing number 2: Survivor guilt is real in cancer land. I know because I have it. And when I am brave enough to say so, I find out that other people have it too. And nobody wants to admit it because it seems like we’re ungrateful to be alive. Which is definitely not the case.

    A good thing I’ve learned: Being honest is always best, always healing, even if it’s only for the moment that we speak our truth.

    So thank you, Nancy for being so honest yourself. And not shying away from 4-letter words to describe how you feel. Honestly, I love that about you.

    1. Andrea, Thank you for sharing a couple shitty things cancer has taught you. (And gosh, that survivor’s guilt is so real.) And thank you for sharing a good thing you’ve learned too. I agree that being honest is very healing – if only for the moment we speak our truth. Love how you put that. Thank you for your kind words. I don’t plan to start sugarcoating any time soon.

    2. Loved this article! I don’t have breast cancer(my Mom did) but I do have head&neck cancer. The feelings are the same though.
      Sick of the positive pushers and people expecting me to be “all better now” just because treatment is over. I’m not ungrateful but I am super pissed off! Thank you for posting what most of us are thinking.

  11. I love your comment about the medical profession believing that getting old is a “treat” and that we should all just be grateful and put up with what happens to our bodies. The effect of Letrozole on my body has been positive from a clinical perspective (ie absolutely no oestrogen in my body) but this has brought its own joys – severe vaginal atrophy that means I couldn’t even pee in a straight line anymore. When I discussed this with my gynaecologist and said that I hadn’t been through all the hell of cancer treatments to spend the rest of my life unable to have any form of intimacy with my husband, his reply was that intimacy was a life-style choice and nothing to do with his clinical concerns!
    Thankfully I have an amazing breast surgeon who said that he hadn’t got me better for me to be miserable, did a load of research on my behalf and is now treating me with a very low dose topical oestrogen cream as the risks appear to be worth it. Result – self esteem back on track and feel more like me again.

    1. Suzanne, Gosh, the fist doc’s comment was pretty darn insensitive, not to mention unhelpful. Thank goodness your breast surgeon is a doc of a different sort. I’m glad that together you’ve come up with something to try. Must feel wonderful to have your self-esteem back and feel more like you again. Thank you for sharing.

  12. Since being diagnosed Stage 4, I find people think I’m at death’s door. I am not. It sucks that people think it and it sucks to realize that I could be. Fuck cancer. So I’m taking to making plans that are 9 years out from now just to show others that I haven’t given up and neither should they.

    1. Linda, I’m sure you’re getting some interesting reactions from people. Don’t hesitate to let them know when their comments/actions/whatever are hurtful and/or unhelpful. Good for you for making those plans. Thank you for sharing.

  13. Nancy with this and your other blogs, you hit the Nail on the Head!!! Good writing, my friend, if only on this technology online computer program. My point here is I am grateful to have met you online. I am very thankful I get to read this and other great writings. I so agree with you, when I am reading your writings. Shitty thing cancer taught Me is to ‘hate’ something, because I ‘hate’ cancer. Another shitty thing cancer taught Me, is how much my body is failing Me, cancer did this to Me. I know I would not be so weak if I didn’t take the Aromatase Inhibitor for almost 5 years now…Stage 111C Inflammatory breast cancer, surgeon took 19 lymph nodes, 12 having the cancer. Chemo, surgery, radiation, I am glad I am still here, but I have such a low quality of life. Thank you, again, Nancy, you are my friend on this journey we are going through, Much Love from Janet a.k.a. “Sunshine!” (I will write back when I make my list of the other shitty things cancer taught Me!)

    1. Janet, I am sorry your quality of life has taken such a hit. I am honored to be considered your friend. Thank you. Come back and share your list of shitty things any time.

  14. Sing it Sista! OMG, I’m definitely one for staying positive but sometimes you just gotta say that this F***ING SUCKS! I want to know why cussing makes me feel better? Seriously I can just shout F***, F***, F*** and it makes me feel better. I wonder why?!

    I’m ready to write a blog post on “Quit your whining”! I had a lab tech “at the cancer center” whine to me that it’s her birthday weekend and how much she hates her birthday. I was very nice to her but I did tell her how blessed she was to be having a birthday and that she should know that by now working at the cancer center. WTF?

    Then the greeter at Sam’s club whines that “well I guess I got up today and I’m at work!” What kinda greeting is that?! I’ve just endured 6 months of unemployment and I’m truly grateful for every healthy day I’m given.

    The day I was told that I had stage 3 breast cancer, I went to buy bras. Then there was a fuss at the cash register. The cashier told me that she was having a really bad day. At the point, I couldn’t say the word cancer when it was “my diagnosis”. I was thinking seriously, I bet I’m having a worse day than you.

    It has been a really rough 2 weeks for me. I’m not ready to share yet. But thanks for letting me rant. So now I just whined…haha. You made me smile. Thanks

    1. Kimberly, It’s funny, since cancer I find that I cuss a helluva lot more too! Whatever helps, right? I’m sorry you’ve had a rough two weeks. I will look for that blog post. Thank you for reading and taking time to comment. Feel free to rant anytime.

  15. A list of shitty things is a grand idea. Where to start?!?! I would have to say my biggest shit-surprise has been the fatigue that WILL NOT go away – don’t remember anyone mentioning that this would last (I’m at two years post treatment, still on meds). I get royally pissed that I have a job that I love, but I’m slapping myself to stay awake as I drive home!

    1. Suzanne, I know, right? I love the idea of a shitty things cancer has taught me list. It really does feel good to write it out. And gosh yes, the fatigue is something so many of us relate to. Please do stay awake on that drive home! Thank you for chiming in here.

  16. I agree with everything you said. Of course I do! I learned that not everything has a silver lining. I learned that healthy people are fearful of being sick so they must figure out what I did wrong so they can continue on in a cushy bubble, believing it could never happen to them.

    1. Eileen, Oh, my gosh, that silver thing is just one more way to frame something difficult, in this case cancer, as a gift. Well, that’s how I see that concept anyway. I know some feel differently, which is fine. What you mentioned about healthy people formulating that hypothesis might be right. I hate to think so though. Thank you for adding to this discussion. I always love hearing from you.

    2. Goodness the comment on the fear that healthy people have of getting sick is SO spot on! Even I was in that camp when diagnosed… wondering what the hell I did to “get this”…. don’t you think we are conditioned to believe that bad choices = cancer? Thanks for sharing!

  17. I learned reconstruction can be more than worth it, massive infection plus radiation meant I was done with that challenge. I learned that the person I had taken care of did not want to reciprocate. I learned that doctors are afraid of me, I am like a hand grenade with the pin pulled half way out. I learned that your 15 shitty things are fact based and shared. Love your bold airing.

    1. Lin, Sounds like you’ve had your share of shittiness. I’m sorry. And wow, your hand grenade analogy is interesting and pretty darn descriptive. Thank you for sharing.

  18. I am still waiting to find the silver lining in all of this. Theng worst thing to me is not being the Grandma I used to be. I am too tired to play like I used to with my 6 grandchildren under 4. I can’t get on the ground with them and get back up. I can’t pick them up or put them in a swing and push them. I learned that I get breast lymphedema when I do that. I keep waiting to get back to my old self, but it might not happen.

    1. Ellen, I’m sorry you have those issues. It’s hard to not compare yourself to the old you, but try not to do that. I’m sure there are less-taxing things you can do with your grandchildren that you can all enjoy (I know that’s probably not what you want to hear), and as they get older there will hopefully be even more things that don’t require so much physical output on your part. And hopefully you will continue to be stronger as well. But yeah, those silver linings are nonexistent as far as I’m concerned. Thank you for taking time to share.

  19. I agree with everything you wrote to the point that I could have written it myself.
    Everything about breast cancer angers me and has from the moment I was told those 3 awful words.
    I just found your page today and I’m enjoying reading it.

    1. Oh Nancy this post rocks!!
      One of my shitty gripes are those people who tell me to stay positive or keep having a positive outlook come from those creeps who have never,ever had cancer. Maybe a good F….k you would do me good. God I hate those comments.
      And I hate explaining myself over and over to my adult children why it is hard to watch grandkids for more than 3-4 hours. Much as I love the little one there is no way in hell I could watch them for three days straight.
      It is REALLY shitty to keep explaining myself about how side effects linger for year. And oh yeah, when I explain neuropathy in my feet from chemo someone always has a better neuropathy story than mine..always from someone who has not had cancer.
      And I type this I can only see out of one eye cause chemo caused my eyes to go bad and I just had cataract surgery on the first eye. Just walking into the surgery center gave me the creeps.
      So much crap that no one gets it who hasn’t had shitty cancer.
      Thanks for letting me unload.

  20. LOL!….Guffaw!……Snort!
    That hand grenade quip, that just hit me like, well
    a hand grenade!
    I can totally relate. It’s not just the doctors,
    it’s…….. “everyone backs up when I walk in the room”!
    You can see people scattering like rats, fleeing from the plague that is I.
    The sideways glances, the hairy eyeballs, the sad nods of despair……………
    There she is, they whisper, the one who had boob cancer, gosh, she sure is different now.
    She used to be more tolerant of stupidity
    So understanding when you whined for hours about your sore toe
    So happy to help you whenever you needed it
    So glad to go out of her way even if she felt like shit
    So much more social and active
    So much thinner before she started taking “that pill” she bitches about all the time
    So much more agile and deft with her hands
    So much more patient
    So much less sarcastic
    So much happier…………………………
    What the hell is she crying about now?
    You would think she would be over it since shes cured now…………………
    I hear she had the “good kind of breast cancer”,
    (All right, so I’m being a little dramatic now)
    But, my breast cancer surgeon did say to me that I had the good kind of cancer
    (this was before I knew that a “good” kind existed
    and before I knew there were many different kinds)
    But I still like her anyway
    And my boyfriend did have the nerve to ask me what the hell I was crying about….once
    Oh, I still like him, too
    And I have been asked if I was cured or if I was in remission
    My Dad just says, Welcome to the golden years,…. we laugh…my Dad can joke with the best,
    I got his sense of humor and my mothers no nonsense attitude,
    which makes for quite a battle inside my head some days,
    they have made me the little snark that I am!
    Add a couple medications, add some aches and pains that suddenly come and go
    add a sudden nasty hot flash and a quick episode of dizziness and the sudden urge to pee
    a little bit of excruciating sudden wrist pain and sudden fatigue,
    a messy handful of “personal lubricant”
    And yes, there is the cussing and cursing, it sure does feel good to yell those out loud sometimes
    and there you have it, the hand grenade with the pin half out!
    Ready, set, pull, throw!
    And run!
    “F” bombs are everywhere!
    And I am pretty sure that even the devil says when I groan out of bed in the morning
    “Oh, shit, she’s up”…………………………..
    Please refer to my recent update rant in the “15 Realities at Eight Years Post Cancer” post,
    a year later………..for more shittinessness
    Thanks again for the freedom to rant Nancy! You’re the bomb!…….snicker……….snort

  21. When I had breast cancer the first time, my family went to help out my former university roommate who had metastatic breast cancer, was a single mom, had been laid off, so had no sick benefits. We had reconnected in the chemo suite – I hadn’t seen her in years. I was tolerating chemo much better than her, had a husband and two capable sons, so we went and spent an afternoon doing yard work for her. I went in to have a cup of tea with her that day and on her bookshelf was a beautifully framed cross-stitch sampler with the words “Fuck Cancer!” I laughed and then I cried. It is exactly how I feel about this disease. The really shitty thing I’ve learned about breast cancer, which has only been reconfirmed now I have MBC is that it is a category 5 shitticane!

    1. Janet, I like that cross-stitch sampler message! I’m sorry to hear you now have MBC. Thank you for sharing and my best to you as you deal with your category 5 shitticane. Great way to describe it!

  22. Nancy, let me start by saying that I have missed blogging a lot and being more involved in our community. I plan on coming back soon.

    I love this post! You have described a lot of my shitty cancer lessons (need to do a post on this). I will add that apparently it was “best for me to get the cancer at a young age, that way I could handle the treatments” (I was told by an idiot)…my shitty lesson is that the losses of a young cancer patient are different of those from an older person, and they are all devastating in their own way. I am sorry we are both in this mess.

    1. Rebecca, Well, hello! Great to hear from you. I’ve missed you. But I understand your absence. There are a lot of shitty lessons and yes, there are some extra shitty ones when you are diagnosed so young. I look forward to a post from you whenever you’re ready. Thanks for chiming in.

  23. Oh yeah, thank God I have found somewhere that gets me. While I was appreciative of the peer support I received through a breast caner network the whole positivity thing eventually became oppressive and unrealistic. Two things I learned from my breast cancer:
    1) Diagnosis, surgery, chemo and radiation and the words “you can only ever be in remission” were a breeze to deal with compared to afterwards. That is, Aramatose Inhibitors. Being estrogen/progesterone positive means stripping your body of all estrogen. How does, no sex, constant urinary tract infections, excelerated ageing, sore bones, bloating, going completely bonkers sound? After trying all of them including Tamoxifan I weighed things up and threw caution to the wind and told my oncologist I am going drug free. Aghast! He said I could be dead in 18 months as I walked out of his surgery. That was 7 years ago. Your vagina never recovers by the way. So I had the Mona Lisa Touch – worked but only works for 12-18 months so needs to be repeated. That is when I decided on low dose vagifem which I counter with natural progesterone. I feel great. I am no longer crazy, I have myself back before cancer. Yes, I am probably at more risk of mastastic cancer but quality of life, remaining married, being happy, vibrant and healthy was more important to me than any percentage risk.
    The second thing cancer taught me is all those charities on the money train band-wagoon. Look, as a woman who has gone through breast cancer, I don’t need a nurse to hold my hand or bring me an ill-fitting bra in hospital while recovering from surgery or a “happy pack”. What I want is a cure! So whatever money people may have in their pockets to donate pleeeease donate to research to find a cure, not to provide a nurse. Two of my best friends are Clinician Nurse Specialists who still can’t tell me what a breast care nurse does that any other nurse can’t do or what your local gp can’t help you with. A high profile charity raising hundres of millions of dollars towards hiring breast care nurses is not what someone with breast cancer wants. Well I don’t anyway. I want a cure!

    1. Sue, preach! I couldn’t have said it any better myself!! I would have buried those aromatase inhibitors in a rat hole, but I was afraid it would seep into the ground water and make the whole neighborhood bonkers.

      1. Lisa. You are so right. Haha. I seemed ok first 5 weeks them whammo. Total nutbag baby! I so envied the women who took them without struggle. Our physiology is all so different to everyone else. I ended up listening to my own body and researched and read everything I could get my hands on and happy I didnt end up in divorce courts and nursing homes

        1. When given an opportunity to make a recommendation on them, Sue, I tell people facing that decision to at least try them. If you can tolerate them, you should take advantage of the benefit, and you cannot know until you try them. That said, if they interfere with your quality of life in a way that is more detrimental than you felt with cancer you should not be pressured into taking them by even a well-meaning medical team. I was fine on them until week 9. Then, my bones hurt so bad I was afraid I had cancer again. I have to work or I don’t have health insurance and I could not get out of bed. I wanted to die on that medication and had I stayed on it, cancer would have won it just would have been a different road to the boneyard.

          1. Hi Lisa. I understand you have an expensive health care system in America that relies on costly medical insurance. Our health system in Australia works differently. We have something called Medicare. 2% of all income tax pays for the system so everyone gets the treatment they need. Doesn’t matter who you are or how wealthy or poor you are. It doesn’t cost a cent to be treated for cancer. No wait lists, so surgery, chemo, radiation etc all free, whatever you need. Prescription drugs including Aramatose Inhibitors only cost a few dollars. Anyway I digress!!
            Yes Lisa, I tell people exactly the same as you do if they ask my opinion. I envied those who could withstand them – who doesn’t want better odds! Before making my decision I researched and I also talked to many medical professionals, not just oncologists. Those who were not oncologists mostly believed quality of life trumps misery and relationship breakdowns and excelerated old age. Before I made the decision I had to counsel myself to be prepared for mastastic cancer if it returned. I think what helped me make the decision is that if I got mestastic cancer there was no way it could be proven that not taking the drugs caused it because even taking the drugs it is not a guarantee just improves the odds.

  24. You learn who your friends are. A woman I thought was a very good friend. The day after my bilateral mastectomy she told me she was getting a boob job on Friday and that we could recover together. Needless to say, that relationship is over. She told me I was too negative.

    1. Lorie, you are so right. I limited who I told to who I could count on two hands. When it was over, I could count who mattered on one. It sounds cynical, I know, but it’s true. I’m single, too, and the people who asked me if I regretted not having a husband during a time like that. Yea, no.

  25. One shitty thing … the giant hematoma I got during my second horribly painful stereostactic biopsy, which I carried through an MRI, an ultrasound, the painful placement of the clip before my second lumpectomy, which fused to the scar tissue that formed after that lumpectomy, then, turned into a giant ball of god knows what as it was radiated, and was still draining old disgusting blood into my system 8 months after treatment. A second shitty thing … the guilt I developed for not being “as sick” as some cancer patients. The relentless people telling me I was lucky to be staged so early, as if anyone with breast cancer is lucky. I sat through rads with a lot of sicker people (bless them) and was scared to speak of my own illness because it wasn’t bad enough. I have a third, too … the anti-cancer/anti-estrogen wonder drug that’s supposed to save your life, but has side effects that make you want to die. You can’t save a life, then, expect me to take a drug that makes me question if my life was worth saving … they told me it decreased my chance of recurrence by 50%, but that meant my 4.9% risk of recurrence went to 2.6% and that’s not enough for me to suffer those side effects. To hell with cancer math, and the guilt they want me to carry for not doing everything I can to save my life by refusing to take that poison.

  26. LOL #TheRaisedEyebrow is a thing.
    Also, we SHOULD begin a #CancerEnlightenmentProgram (CEP) but like our own brand. Different kind of enlighten ha ha
    Thanks for the shout out link. I think all said and done, as tired of it all as I am, the did you questions are still the thing most likely to make me go from 0 to 100 in less than a second. In which I start spitting fire and screaming, I mean.

    Love to you and all here!

    1. CC, Yes, a different kind of CEP! Guess that’s sorta what are blogs are. ha I loved your “Did You?” post. So good. And now, there are the “Are You Now?” questions. Love back to you. Thank you for chiming in here. BTW, go ahead spitting fire and screaming when you need to. 🙂

  27. Hi Nancy,

    Your post lifted me up from the shitty feeling of feeling alone lol. You made me laugh and smile because I feel all the shitty things you listed too! and my list goes on. I’m new here and found your post because I woke up at 2AM this morning with my squirrel mind going and haven’t been able to go back to sleep. I’m 36 y/o with MBC- bone Mets and I have an 8y/o son who is my light ☀️. I can be an annoying cheerleader at times (cause I really was one) and I own it lol but I can also be a terrifying witch or just plain sad and it’s all good! And you acknowledge the piece that most people around avoid talking about. That right there is shitty – not talking about it.

    The ugly truth is where there is light there dark. And that darkness brings some shittiness: The pressure to stay positive all the time – I respect the motivation and encouragement. Always. I also respect when we can acknowledge the ugly dark truth that is in our face.

    Like right now I feel like I can spit fire about all the shitty things I learned from cancer but I have to find a way to go to sleep now and get ready for my 8 y/o son’s birthday party later this evening (see…this feeling of insomnia from hormone therapy treatments and pills that come with side effects is shitty too)

    Ok so to refocus some lessons I’ve learned from cancer: that it’s perfectly perfect to be imperfect in all this; that I can and will dance with love and hate on this journey; that I can fall and get up anytime I choose to do so; and that it’s ok to be with my pain; that it’s ok for me to scream F-you to cancer and also give it more love in return because the anger from this cancer is draining the F out of me!! Yes I’m that “angry flower girl” and It’s all good! So thank you for reminding me that I’m not alone, Nancy. I wish you and everyone on this journey lots of love! ~CJA

    1. Camilla, I’m glad to hear my post lifted you up. You certainly are not alone. And believe me, many of us have trouble sleeping sometimes too. We get that! Thank you for sharing some of your valuable insights. Keep speaking your truths. Hope your son’s party went well.

  28. I hope you don’t mind that I am here and commenting. I am not a breast cancer survivor but I am an esophageal cancer survivor.
    I found your blog when I was surfing last night and could hardly wait to be able to read more. You have a lot of feelings and emotions that many people I know feel but are “afraid” to let it known because they don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings? Hell, I say tell them the truth and let them really know.
    I would really love to use parts of your blog (with links and proper recognition) in some of my support groups. Perhaps then some of them would understand that its okay that normal is just a word in the dictionary.

    1. Nancy, You are more than welcome to comment here any time. Much of this crosses over to other types of cancer and, of course, all cancer is shitty! I’m glad you found me. I appreciate you taking time to let me know your thoughts. Feel free to share posts/links with your support group. Proper credit is appreciated. I hope some of my pieces are helpful. Thank you for stopping by. My best to you.

  29. OMG!! I don’t know any of you but I love you for all the truths you have written. Nancy! Thank you for this post. It has been a year and a half for me since the breast cancer beast entered my life. Ditto to everything said…cancer is shitty!

  30. Thank you so much for this! I don’t remember how I found you but your posts and the comments following are the MOST helpful information I have found since being diagnosed last September. I love you all too and it makes me practically cry with relief to hear honest experiences. I have been so down on myself because I feel like cancer has not made me better in any way!!!!

    1. Susan, Thank you for your feedback. I’m glad you’ve found my posts and the comments to be helpful. My dear readers are the best! And so smart too. 🙂 Like I always like to say, be real. Be you. It’s enough. #KeepingItReal

  31. I am so thankful I ran across this. I am 2.5 years out from breast cancer and I am still waiting for that high of putting on a pink tutu and cheering and being am amazing changed woman. I have changed for sure but not in the ways that my friends and social media expects. An example, I posted a quote about cancer being cancer being a “gift that keeps giving” bone pain, fatigue, etc. I was DM’d that I should feel lucky to have beaten it because so many others haven’t. I didn’t even know what to say. I have incredible survivors guilt so it played that string for sure. That was the moment I realized my time was up. It doesn’t seem that it will ever be up. I have scars outside and in. I too have gained weight because I can barely do anything without residual pain and lack of energy. I don’t even know myself any more. I don’t dislike this person she is just someone I am still trying to get to know. The one positive thing is I DID realize how much I appreciate my family. Not that I didn’t before but a light shined a little brighter in my head and I want to spend a much time as I can with them. Sorry for the rant. I appreciate your blog 🙂

  32. Thank you so much for this blog Nancy. I’m enjoying being able to speak my truth without all the wide-eyed “worried about your mental health” looks. Shitty things about breast cancer: having my job terminated while on medical leave following my mastectomy surgery. Ignorant people who blame my MBC on something I did or didnt do. Not being a good candidate for reconstruction but trying to live with a 14 inch gash across my chest. Lymphodemia. Side effects so bad I sometimes wish I could just die already. Nasty people who tell me “you don’t look very sick to me”. Deemed 100% disabled. Medicare. Insurance that won’t allow me to purchase a Medicare supplement because I’m not 65 yet. In fact, this list could go on for days and days! Some “good” things that have come about because of my cancer: I don’t really give a shit about what other people think about me or my cancer. I can throw around F-bombs and bad language all I want. I can smoke pot until the cows come home. I eat ice cream every single day. My sweet husband loves me regardless of how many nipples I have. I can work every day on being the person my little dogs believe I am. Thanks again Nancy for your wonderful, insightful and uplifting blog. I appreciate being able to speak my story and truth here.

      1. Diagnosed with MBC April 2018. Made it in the shoulders, hips & spine. Radiation kicked my butt. 2 week hospital stay & 2 months out of work. Opted for no liqiud chemo. Doing Ibrance , letrazole, lupron & Xgeva as ongoing treatment that the body is responding to, thankfully. Trying to keep my chin up just adds to the exhaustion but doing my best to stay positive. When you hear the words not curable, why beat the crap out of my body with the liquid. Besides, I need to work for the sake of my own sanity & still need to pay the bills. My motto is live it to know it. Otherwise, don’t tell me what I should or should not be doing on a daily basis. I’m not afraid of dieing. I’m afraid of not being there for my daughter. No one will be there for her the same way I would be. Sorry for venting so intensley but I’ve never said these words to anyone until now. Thank you for your blog Nancy.

        1. Melissa, You are welcome to vent here any time. No need to apologize. I’m sorry to hear about your mbc diagnosis. Wishing you all the best. Thank you for sharing.

  33. I found you while I was looking for some help with this neuropathy. I will add it to your list of shitty things. It’s in my feet and sometimes goes up my ankles to my knees. The worst today is in my hands especially the left side where I had two lumpectomies and mastectomy and radiation. Today it is going up my neck to my jar and lips. Also up my arm passing through my elbow,under the arm and over the shoulder and settling in the back muscle. Well not settling because all of it is sort of numb but tingling. And there is the numbness under my arm from the removal of breast tissue but the nerve endings around the surgery area every once in awhile decide to fire up, without notice taking your breath away, sometimes for a moment but then sometimes for an indefinite period of time. Sorry, I am only 15 months in from diagnosis and do not know why I agreed. Maybe it was the looks on my grown children’s faces when I said, “What happens if I don’t do anything?” I would not wish time on my worse enemy.

    1. Toni, I’m sorry you have to deal with neuropathy on top of everything else. That is definitely another shitty thing to add to the list. Hopefully, your medical team is aware and trying to offer some relief. My best to you and thank you for sharing.

  34. You strong wonderful woman!! After losing my Mom to AML (acute myeloid leukemia) 2 yrs. ago (and a friend 13 yrs. ago & a friend’s father 1 1/2 yrs. ago) – cancer can just go to hell. My mother was diagnosed, had chemo & died w/in 5 1/2 months of that diagnosis. She fought HARD. I love the reality you offer & the sarcasm. Best wishes to you & all who fight for future good health.

  35. First off, I didn’t have breast cancer. My cancer was a tumor the size of a golf ball in my sinuses. So I’m not in the pink club but I feel I can comment. Oh the side effects, don’t get me started. I had to go through 35 radiation and 8 chemo all at the same time. I’m now cancer free for 3 years, but still have a port that has to flushed every month, and still getting scanned every 6 months. So it’s been really hard for me to go forward and pretend that I’m my old self. After cancer you will never be your old self ever again. But those around you think you need to get over it and move on.

  36. I am a caregiver for my mom who has mesothelioma and this is what I see.
    People are scared shitless that they might get cancer and I think they are looking for reasons they WONT get it. Hence the questions, Do you smoke, do drugs, eat organic.?..the list is endless. I also think fear is also behind the positive thinking kick. As a caregiver, I am trying to keep the toilet clean and keep the bedroom from smelling like well.. the bathroom. It would be unbearable to hear anything other than, “I’ll get through this.” or “Tomorrow will be better.”
    I do believe in hope. I pray morning and night that the tumors will shrink to nothing but I know that for whatever reason, not all will be cured.
    Lastly, there are definitely lots of coping skills and I pray that everyone going through cancer has at least one. Thank you for keeping it real!

    1. Marla, Thank you for sharing your observations. I’m sorry you and your mom are going through this, but I am glad she has you as a caregiver. Wishing you both my best.

  37. I’ve had ovarian cancer, which has a high recurrence and death rate. Surgery was not too bad, but the chemo knocked me flat. I finished the last treatment in January, waited a month and then went on Lynparza to lower the odds of recurrence. It made me so anemic I had to have several blood transfusions. Then my doctor lowered the dosage and I’m tolerating it fairly well. But last month I was weeding out some briars and apparently pulled a muscle in my privates! I’m still trying to recover from that!
    Also, genetic testing showed I have the BRCA1 mutation, as do my daughters. One of them also has ovarian cancer. After chemo to reduce hers, she will have surgery in a couple of days, then more chemo.
    This all stinks! I was pretty active and fit before all this. I keep trying, but you’re right, all those super positive people can get really annoying. I want to do stuff, but I CAN’T. Any recovery will have to be baby steps. I’m just not bouncing back, darn it.

  38. I have read so many posts where the patient was “pretty active and fit” before cancer diagnosis. That was me with no breast cancer in my family. Where is this coming from?

    1. Toni, Cancer cannot be prevented by exercise or diet. Sure, eating healthy and exercise decrease risk, but prevent cancer, no. Cancer’s cause is a combo of hereditary factors, environmental factors and chance. That’s the best answer I’ve got. My best to you.

    2. I have a theory… we need to be looking at sports drinks and power bars. Specifically, food coloring in drinks and power bar wrappers. I am 44, 6’2″, 170 lbs, run, bike, watch what I eat. I am also dealing with colorectal cancer.

  39. I am facing a bilateral mastectomy on December 17th. This my third time with genetic cancer. I am blessed with a strong support system and strength from God but with all my heart I wish this would just end. I have been told the most disgusting things that I finally rebelled and told the staff at the surgeons office that they were unsympathetic. Some how the fact I hadn’t consented to a mastectomy years ago led to the current problem. I have had to start all over with a new team of physicians and am facing chemo forthe third time. I was told I couldn’t have a lumpectomy and radiation and chemo and they wouldn’t operated unless I had a mastectomy y. Standard of care requires the mastectomy. Why can’t people shut up. There are things worse than death. Jesus calls it sleep I just want that peace.

  40. Hi Gloria,
    I am so sorry to hear you are going into yet another round with this ugly disease. I agree with you 100% on “why can’t people shut up”!!! They have no clue half of them what they are even speaking about and then leave us feeling like we are doing this “all wrong”. And how about when it’s your oncologist who is being rude and inconsiderate when she says to me” your letting CANCER run your life”. She literally just said this to me at my visit on 12/9/2019!! I am right in the “thick” of it and going it completely I’m not sure what she thinks I should be doing differently, other than go on the anti-depressants she keeps pushing at me.
    Gloria my dear soul I will be praying for you and that God will give you that peace and pray that you will have a strong and healthy recovery. Sending you much love, prayers, compassion and support. Gina..xoxo

  41. There are many things cancer has taught me, even though I never wanted to learn them….. the most annoying one being that your life is not and never will be the same as it was “BEFORE”……and, second, anyone who has never heard the words “You have cancer” applied to them do not and will not ever understand what you are and will go through, nor do they really want to understand. They just want you to move on and get your life (and theirs) back to NORMAL. If only…………..

  42. Oh Lynda, you are so right about those who have never heard those forever life altering words..they don’t understand at all what we are dealing with on an every single day basis! I wish all the best.

  43. Thank you for this post Nancy. #15 hits me the hardest. My sister Mary Jo died of MBC. Doesn’t get any shittier than witnessing what advanced disease does to people. I would add another shitty thing that cancer has taught me: People make assumptions that they shouldn’t. Similar to Lynda and Gina’s recent comments, people who haven’t had cancer can’t know what they don’t know, and they shouldn’t try to tell anyone who has cancer what they should or shouldn’t do (unless we ask for their input). And those of us who find ourselves together in this BC sisterhood should also not make assumptions about anyone else’s experiences and emotions. Honor one another’s stories. Direct and heartfelt words like the ones in your blog help bring honor. Thanks!

    1. Lisa, Yes, #15 is one you know all too well, as do many of us. I’m so sorry your dear sister died from this wretched disease. You are so right about assumptions. We all make them, of course, but we could all be a bit more mindful before we do. Honoring one another’s stories and experiences is so important. Your comments and insights always are a beacon to remind us to do just that. Thank you, Lisa.

  44. Nancy, I just wanted to comment on what you wrote to Eileen regards to “find your PEOPLE” I like that SO much better than the word TRIBE..when I went to my first oncologist(btw..I have an appt. 2day for a 3rd oncologist) had a patient navigator everytime I saw her she would say “we’re your tribe” and they were never there for me, so of course I got sick of hearing that word and have come to honestly despise the word(sorry) but I really do. So ye’s thank you for saying “find your people” and thank you overall for all of your HONESTY!! Much much appreciated Nancy!! May we all get through this the best we can:)

    1. Gina, That patient navigator meant well, but I can see how hearing that was annoying too. I mean, you get to decide who your tribe is, not someone else. Find your people. I like that better too. Thank you for your kind words. #KeepingItReal is always my goal. Thank you for commenting.

  45. I appreciate this post very much. I have often thought all of those things. We often joked in one support group that it feels like you’re supposed to start an NGO on the top of Mount Everest after you climb it, while shouting to the world your thanks for being given this wonderful gift of cancer. Still an image I use to make myself laugh (dark humour) at some of the bad moments.

    If I could add a couple of pieces of shit to the pile:

    Hearing the words “It’s cancer” is NOT easier the second time (thankfully a second primary). But you know what to expect this time – bullshit. Different breast cancer, different treatment. Is it really easier to know the crap that is about to be done to your body.

    Statistics mean nothing. Cancer teaches you that all you care about are 0% and 100%. It is or it isn’t. When you’ve been on the wrong side of statistics you know that, yes, it can be you.

    Cancer steals time and quality of life. Even if you have the “best” of the cancers. A term I detest. Every appointment, treatment, surgery, pill, scan or worry, takes time. Fatigue, pain and other long term side effects steal quality. For our friends who develop MBC and have a deteriorating quality of life and who ultimately have the rest of their lives stolen, cancer really is the ultimate thief.

    I’m not better for the last 8 years, my family isn’t, my relationships aren’t and genetics aren’t always a gift(I’d have preferred tall and thin). Even 2 years out from my second diagnosis I am not done with treatment (but why, you should be over this) and will probably never be. I’m not the happy cancer patient all the time. I’m learning to not be sorry if it offends people.

    1. I was in great health and full of energy before the, “You have cancer” 18 months ago. I am working through the fatigue, nephropathy, regenerating nerve endings at the surgery site but how does everyone deal with the gastrointestinal issues. What do you eat besides rice, mashed potatoes, chicken and Greek yogurt without stomach pain? My family doctor had me start taking Activa before I started chemo. What else is there?

    2. Sorry for all your trials! I’ve come to the conclusion that cancer and treatment is somewhat like a tornado ripping your home to shreds and having to rebuild with the debris that’s left on the ground. It will never be the same. Physically, mentally, and emotionally I’m still a mess, though I’ve made some progress. There is always the lurking awareness it may come back (ovarian cancer). But I hope for the best. I wish you all the best, too.

  46. Nancy, Thank you for this blog. The responses to this post were a balm to my spirit. I am a uterine cancer UPSC survivor, but the feelings are much the same. For those battling MBC, I am so sorry for what you have to go through. I struggled to get a DX in June, 2018, finally was staged at 1A, but a Grade 3 very aggressive serous cancer much like ovarian. Rare, but deadly. I had a radical hysterectomy, BSO, chemo and brachytherapy. I feel fortunate for my stage, and that this cancer is not so disfiguring. I belong to a cancer support board but most people are too polite to complain about the shittiest parts of cancer. Plus it is very sad as we have lost many incredible women members to death. Some become so sick that they disappear and we all wonder if they are still alive. It is not a place where one can really bare their souls, plus no cursing is allowed. Fuck that! So reading these comments made my heart sing! Women who get it, and who are not afraid to say it. So thank you so much one and all. It is so true that only people diagnosed with cancer can really understand what we go through, even with supportive people. I am anxious right now because my next oncologist appt is in two weeks, I have pain in my left hip…

  47. Sue here. So sorry to hear what you are going through. Im 7 years in remission for breast cancer. I understand many woman need to surround themselves with positivity. I truly get that. I dont believe we need be angry all the time but let us have our true voice occasionally – suck it up cheer squad, it’s not personal!. Going through cancer I was the poster girl for the well behaved. Minded my manners and kept my mood in check and entertained and fed those who came to visit. My two older sisters were constantly telling me I will be fine, think positive thoughts. No credit given to me for the brave battle I was fighting to save my own life. Platitude after platitude. I know they were well meaning but when they would visit I couldnt wait for them to leave. Some people just don’t know how to empathise. They used to turn up with their hair freshly blow dried, their best clothes and makeup on. While I looked like something the cat dragged in not remembering when I last showered. Going through breast cancer I now know how to be a good support person. Turn up with a meal for tonight’s dinner, look like you just got out of bed, do something practical like vacuum the floor, say a few platitudes then give them permission to vent, cry or whatever they need do to relieve their stress, give them a kiss and cuddle tell them you love them then go home.

    1. Oh Sue…you made me smile reading your post. I can’t even tell you how many times I have felt like something the dragged in. And you are 100% right about those of us fighting this fight..I don’t think we get nearly the recognition we strongly deserve for being brave!! Great post..thank you for sharing:)

    2. Sue, great post. I often went to the support group looking like I had just got out of bed and dragged myself there. Probably because I had and I was darn proud of myself!
      I don’t think of it as negativity. After 8 years of cancer I don’t like being around people who are whinny about stupid stuff like having to wait in line, coffee too hot, gained a pound. Really, be grateful that’s the worst thing in your life. I do, however, like listening and supporting other women through their challenges – they are just being real and I think that is positive, not negative.
      Anyone dealing with any type of cancer deserves a round of applause just for waking up and getting through the day.

  48. Hi Jane. You are right. I must admit, post cancer, I don’t have a lot of patience for those who “sweat the small stuff” either. But every now and then I need to remind myself they haven’t been on my journey and I don’t know what their life has been like. Unfortunately, I still whinge about all the same things I did pre-cancer. I don’t think about cancer much in my day to day life. Every now and then though I feel the need to connect with “a sister” like the wonderful brave honest women like you on this site. It’s where we get to tell our stories, open up about how we really feel without worrying about being judged. We can whinge, laugh, cry, and rejoice with others who “get us”. I can’t talk about my cancer to family or friends. The people closest to us just want to get past it. I understand that too…

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