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Diary of a Wimpy Cancer Patient

Have you read the highly popular comic/novel for young teens called, Diary of a Wimpy Kid? It’s about a middle-school kid who doesn’t quite fit the mold at school or in his family. The story outlines his antics (mostly unsuccessful ones) at attempting to fit in. Admittedly, I have not read this book, but the similarities between this story and mine (any maybe yours too) are there. Stick with me here.

Recently I re-read my memoir, Cancer Was Not a Gift & It Didn’t Make Me a Better Person:  A memoir about cancer as I know it, and after finishing it, I thought wow, I could easily have titled it, Diary of a Wimpy Cancer Patient. That title would have been quite fitting.

I finished up my memoir late last year and it was published in December. When I was FINALLY done, I couldn’t stand to read it anymore. Heck, I could hardly stand the sight of it sometimes. Not really, but you know what I mean. I’ve read this is very common with other authors. Finishing a book is so time consuming and the final editing process is just plain tedious. When the end finally comes, you feel like chucking the darn thing out the window, or at least I did. Let’s just say, I needed a break from it, so I told myself I would not revisit/reread it for at least six months. As it turned out, I waited even longer.

Upon reading it again, I thought, wow, I was a wimpy cancer patient. I kid you not.

There’s the part when I found out I had cancer, and I sat on the sofa sobbing making weird snorting sounds as dear hubby tried to console me. Unsuccessfully.

Then there’s the part where I learned I needed chemo. Utter meltdown time. Pity party. Yep. Had one. And it was a doozy.

There was the day we scheduled chemo appointments. Or rather dear hubby did. I leaned by a wall literally allowing it to hold me up. I was frozen. Immobilized. Poor dear hubby was forced to handle things. I think he was forced to handle a lot of unpleasant things…

And there were the parts about me trying to cope with losing my hair. Literally not a pretty sight. Any of it.

And then there were all the dang surgeries removing my remaining woman parts. More lamenting. More tears. More, well, of me being a wimpy cancer patient.

And then there were the recoveries and the picking up of the pieces.

And on and on.

While doing my reread, among other things, I noticed I cried. A lot.

I was one big fat mess. For months. (Maybe I still am).

I do know for certain I was NOT strong. I was NOT brave. I was NOT courageous.

Quite the contrary.

I was a wimpy cancer patient.

I admit it. I was.

Maybe this is why hearing those platitudes like, you’re so strong, brave and courageous irritated the heck out of me then and still do.

Maybe I’ve always known I didn’t fit the mold. I was not a “good” breast cancer patient.

I was, and still am, sort of like that wimpy middle-school kid who try as he might, just couldn’t fit it.

I didn’t fit in well in Cancer Land.

Often I still don’t.

But guess what?

I don’t care anymore!

If I was a wimpy cancer patient, if I still am a wimpy cancer patient, if I always will be referred to as a wimpy cancer patient. (Btw, am I considered a cancer patient from here on out? Post for another day I guess).

So be it.

I get to do all parts of cancer chaos my way.

You do too.

Have you read, Diary of a Wimpy Kid?

Do/did you ever feel like a wimpy cancer patient? Or a wimpy patient in general?

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Diary of a Wimpy Kid image via Wikipedia & qualifies as fair use


Cancer Was Not a Gift

Alternative title could’ve been, “Diary of a Wimpy Cancer Patient”.


Wednesday 26th of July 2017

I very much relate to Kathi's comment. I don't know that I was wimpy, but definitely traumatized. I often tell people that cancer kicked my ass. Because it did. Just because I'm alive doesn't mean I don't walk with a limp, figuratively speaking.


Wednesday 26th of July 2017

Eileen, I was pretty wimpy, but now I realize that was perfectly okay. (You read my memoir, so you know). Traumatized is a good way to describe it too. And a limp, I think we all are wobbling around with one of those. Thank you for sharing.


Thursday 27th of April 2017

I liked this post a lot. I also think some cancer care professionals could use a read through these posts. I had fantastic care, but there was one time the radiation therapist was grumpy, in a hurry etc. and it was the one day I had a melt down and started to cry. She was not pleased. I don't think there are many care givers that expect non-stop stoic happy give me an A+ for attitude behavior, but the few there are, can make things pretty rough.


Saturday 10th of December 2016

Funny you bring this up because I vividly remember commenting to my oncologist, "I'm such a wimp". I got sucked into all the media hype about the bravery of women fighting breast cancer and felt somewhat inadequate because that sure wasn't me. I hope women who are about to start their cancer treatment read this post because it's so important for them to know it's normal to cry vent, and do whatever you need to do to get through it. I hope family and friends read the post because it's important that they understand these feelings need to be acknowledged as normal and healthy. I haven't read Diary of a Wimpy Kid but it sounds like a good read :)


Monday 12th of December 2016

Lennox, I have a feeling lots of us have made that comment, or one like it, to our oncologists, and others too. There is a lot of media hype out there generating false ideas and "standards" about what a cancer patient should look like and how she/he should act. Most of it is total BS. Ditch the expectations and be you. That's my advice these days. Who needs added pressure when grappling with cancer, right? Thank you for sharing.

Beth Gainer

Friday 9th of December 2016

Hi Nancy,

I remember reading those heartbreaking parts of the book where you sobbed uncontrollably. I think it's a normal response considering the trauma that is being diagnosed with cancer. It was completely reasonable for you to feel and act the way you did. I cried in my car all the time (I thought of it as my confessional chamber) and broke down in doctors' offices. I cried walking in the street and in the shower (the latter is a fantastic place to have a good cry). I was depressed and anxious all the time.

I think you are brave to share your story.

This is an excellent post, reminding us all that being a "wimpy" cancer patient is the norm, after all. At least I think it is.

By the way, I've read Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and it is terrific and funny!!


Monday 12th of December 2016

Beth, Good to know there are other criers out there! I have a feeling there are many "wimpy" cancer patients out there. In reality being real is the exact opposite of being wimpy. Took me a while to fully internalize this though. Thank you for sharing.


Friday 9th of December 2016

I love this post too! Never read the Diary of a Wimpy Kid though. It has a good title, but I love the title of your book, Nancy. And I never thought you were wimpy.

It's winter and 6 days before finding my lump (found it on a Dec. 14) so I've been thinking about those days a lot lately. I remember being petrified from day 1. I remember I was not shy about it. I cried a lot. I could not sleep. I woke up every night, to pray, to ask for another chance (yup. blamed myself too), to allow myself to just be. My fiance was with me the entire time. I never felt pressured to act a certain way until I finished treatments (my guy has always allowed me to be myself). I hated the platitudes also. I did not consider myself a warrior. I remember being depressed. Never coming out of the house or my pajamas. Didn't want to see anyone or take anyone's phone calls. I thought I was going to die. I was scared and did not hide it. I feel very proud of myself for having done cancer my own way. I continue to do so. I love finding people who behave the same way -- the realists and the ones who keep it real. Nothing wrong with that. xo


Monday 12th of December 2016

Rebecca, It's wonderful you never felt pressured to act a certain way when you were in the thick of things. You should feel proud of yourself for doing cancer your way from the start. I'm glad your fiance has been supportive and you've never felt the need to mask your genuine feelings. Keeping it real is what I aim for now, no sugarcoating. In the long run, it's healthier and helps others understand better too. Thank you for being a realist right along with me. xo

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