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Cancer Sucks. Period.

Some things are black and white. Not much room for doubt or debate. Though not everyone agrees, which is fine, as far as I’m concerned, cancer sucks. Period.

As I have mentioned many times, the great life lessons a person is supposed to garner following a cancer diagnosis escape me. I have had no epiphany. Cancer is transforming alright, but not in a good way, at least not for me.

I have not magically morphed into some new and improved version of my former self. Other than meeting some wonderful people, I give cancer no credit for anything other than heartache and upheaval. Cancer sucks. Period.

I remain a resistant cancer learner, and sometimes I wonder why this is. 

These days, when a cancer survivor type story floats through my social media news feeds with a headline or title suggesting the writer has learned much from her cancer experience, grown to realize what’s important in life, or reorganized her priorities as a result of cancer, I generally don’t click anymore. I just can’t do it.

I try hard to respect how others handle their cancer experiences, but I also have to respect how I handle mine.

After my diagnosis, for a long time I couldn’t figure out why there was this pressure to find the good in a shitty situation like cancer.

I understand why many people think it’s better to search for meaning, to find a reason for the shit storm of cancer. For some, this personal evolution of self is a very real, very important and very worthwhile tool to implement as a way to absorb, process and accept a cancer diagnosis. It obviously works for many.

But the positive transformation theory, or in other words, the “I’ve come out a better person post-cancer diagnosis theory,” just doesn’t work for me.

(You might want to read, After a Cancer Diagnosis, You’re a Better Person, right?).

Early on, I used to wonder why it didn’t. I used to wonder what was wrong with me.

Sometimes, I still do.

I wondered why I couldn’t see the lessons I was supposed to learn from cancer.

Again, sometimes I still do.

Then one day, I realized perhaps I didn’t want to see them.

This, too, made me feel like I was doing something wrong, like there was something wrong with me. I mean, who wouldn’t want to see the lessons of a life-altering experience?

And then, finally, it sunk in that not only was it okay to not see the lessons of cancer; it was okay to not want to see them.

In other words, it was fine to not want to hand over credit for anything positive at all to cancer. Because again, as far as I’m concerned, cancer sucks. Period.

Even now, a decade+ after my diagnosis, I still have days when I wonder why I am such a cancer rebel. I still sometimes wonder what’s wrong with me. I still sometimes wonder why I so adamantly refuse to drink the pink Kool-Aid. I still wonder why I am such a determinedly resistant cancer learner.

If and when I figure it out, you’ll be the first to know.

For now, as far as I’m concerned…

I am beyond weary of reading about the “positives” of breast cancer. 

Breast cancer did not give me a new outlook on life, it did not make me begin to re-examine my life and priorities, and it did not morph me into some new and improved version of myself.

My outlook, life, and priorities were doing fine before breast cancer. I have learned no great life lessons. I did not need the wake-up call.

I realize many people view their cancer experiences quite differently, and some see my way as being negative. I’ve been told as much from time to time. So be it.

Breast cancer (any cancer) is an awful disease that far too many still die from. It’s not some grand opportunity to reinvent yourself, at least it hasn’t been for me.

Enough with the spin.

Cancer sucks. Period.

That’s my story. And I’m sticking with it.

What about you?

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Have you learned life lessons from cancer?

Do you believe in the positive transformation (post-cancer diagnosis) theory? 

Are you weary of reading about the “positives” of breast cancer, too, or is it just me?

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No epiphany. No silver linings. Enough with the spin. #Cancer Sucks. Period. That's my story, and I'm sticking with it. #cancer #breastcancer #keepingitreal

Rebecca Karlsson

Thursday 4th of February 2021

I am new to this forum, and so glad I found it. Just finished Nancy’s book and it made me feel so understood and heard. I’m only 10 months into this “curse” and still have so far to go. On this subject, I feel so often that I am having to put on a strong/positive front for OTHER people. People who have never had cancer. My friends and relatives who HAVE gone through it are not artificially happy and positive. They are, mostly, realistic (and a bit traumatized even decades out) as am I. For whatever reasons, the non-cancer people of the world are wanting me to be “normal” again as soon as possible. I feel that maybe THEY are the ones who need to put MY cancer behind THEM. Strange. They tell me that it’s for my own good to get on with life (i.e. as if nothing ever happened). How in the WORLD would they know what’s for my own good? I believe that THEY are the ones that want to forget about the whole thing. Not saying that everyone I know is like this, but most everyone. Thank GOD I have a small group of confidantes who support and understand me. Otherwise I would feel as if there were something very wrong with me and that I were a pessimist and a negative person, making my own life unnecessarily miserable. It’s so hard, on so many levels. The only thing I can think to do now is to throw time at it. That’s assuming I have time, as there no guarantee of that either. And I’ll take my strength and support where and when I can find it. I’m so happy to find this blog. See what a positive person I am, haha.


Thursday 4th of February 2021

Rebecca, Welcome. I'm sorry you find yourself in need of this forum, but since you do, I'm glad you're here. :)


Saturday 19th of December 2020

Thank you. I'm only a couple of months out from my diagnosis and a month (today) from bilateral mastectomy. I liked the me I was before. Judging by the amount of love and support I've gotten since my diagnosis, I was doing pretty well with my relationships and my faith. I am not thankful for cancer. Not one single part of it. My cousin recently sent me a photo of me with my mom and grandma when I was 13 (a really long time ago). As I was looking at it, I realized that I was looking at three generations of cancer (pancreatic, colon, and now breast). Cancer has taken so much. I am not a better person because of it. Cancer sucks. Period.


Monday 21st of December 2020

Bonnie, I completely agree. Cancer sucks. Period. I'm sorry about all the loss cancer has brought to your family. My best to you as you deal with all that you must deal with. Thank you so much for sharing.


Sunday 26th of July 2020

CANCER SUCKS.....I am not lucky to have come out of it, you are so strong, but look at you now, you managed so well, it's over now...... and the countless other comments that make me absolutely livid, not to mention "ways to prevent cancer" posts on social media..... If it's so miraculous, you take it.... I am not a better person.... I was great before cancer, I didn't need cancer as an eyeopener to a "better" lifestyle..... if anything I had a healthier lifestyle before because I actually believed it made a difference...... I am a happy/content woman now as I was before but it feels good to be able to vent the frustrations that simmer when others feel a right to minimize that period of my life..... and assume that it is epiphany worthy... it was NOT...sorry, not sorry!

Thank you for your posts..... they are real. sonja


Thursday 18th of July 2019

I so agree with your perspective as always! There's a meme out there to the effect of..."what didn't kill me makes me weirder and harder to deal with.." something like that and I say yes! Cancer has taken already positive things in my life and affected them negatively, and the negative ones it has fueled. But similar to what you say, I was a pretty cool human before cancer, I didn't need this shit to adjust any attitude or cause me to be more loving or whatever other thing! You are always on point and I enjoy and cheer your words and resonate with them for sure! Thank you for your expression!


Monday 22nd of July 2019

Elizabeth, Guess we're on the same page! Thank you for your expression as well.


Thursday 18th of July 2019

Cancer sucks big time and it always will. But I see it also as an opportunity to raise awareness or to just be a friend or sounding board to others as you are doing here Nancy. Through my cancer I have been able to give support to close friends who are going through different kinds of cancer, they can be real with me about their feelings when family and friends don’t understand what cancer is like. As the saying goes “you will never know what it’s like until it happens to you”. So Nancy, no I’m not happy I got cancer and don’t wish it on anyone, but it has changed me as it has you and you use that change with your blog and that is a change I’m glad that you did.


Monday 22nd of July 2019

Alison, Thank you for expressing your thoughts on this one. I'd much rather be blogging about a different topic if it meant I wouldn't have been diagnosed with breast cancer. I'm glad you are offering support to others going through cancer, though of course, it'd be nice if you didn't understand so well what a diagnosis means. Cancer can be a catalyst, but it still sucks.

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