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Cancer Is Not A Gift!

Cancer is not a gift. No, it is not. 

Some cancer survivors believe and proudly proclaim that their cancer was a gift. Without a doubt, this is entirely their prerogative. Everyone certainly has the right to his/her own cancer experience viewpoints. I am not judging anyone here.

But as for me, I refuse to call cancer a gift. It’s not.

During a recent visit to a relative’s home, I was shown a newspaper article featuring a woman who had “come through” her cancer “journey” and was calling her whole ordeal a gift.

Regrettably, I copped out, smiled, nodded, read the article and said something like, oh how nice for her.

I have since decided I will not be so quiet next time this topic comes up, and undoubtedly, there will be a next time because calling cancer a gift is something that is said or alluded to more often than you might imagine.

Calling cancer a gift makes a nice feature story for a magazine or a newspaper article, but it’s not reality – at least it’s not mine.

Perhaps it’s all just semantics, but as I say over and over again, words matter. They matter a great deal.

I will never ever be calling cancer a gift. Such words will not be coming from my lips. Nope. Not gonna happen.

I might know what people mean when they call cancer a gift. They are grateful for their new outlook on life. They are grateful and appreciative for every new day. They are grateful for new discoveries, new choices, new life-styles changes and for the new people they’ve met. They are grateful to be alive. They are grateful, period.

I’m grateful for all that stuff too. I am, but I am not grateful to cancer.

Btw, I was grateful for that stuff before cancer too. No wake-up call needed here.

Cancer is not the gift. The gifts are those things, those people, not the cancer.

It’s impossible for me to be grateful to a disease that killed my mother in a very slow and painful manner. It’s impossible for me to be grateful to a disease that has taken others I care about. It’s impossible for  me to be grateful to a disease that has taken so many that others care about as well. And it’s impossible for me to be grateful to a disease that might yet swallow me up as well.

It’s unfathomable for me to be grateful to cancer in any way, shape or form.

No, cancer is more like a thief. You don’t thank a thief do you?

Another issue I have with this cancer is a gift line of thinking is that as I mentioned in my You Can’t Go Back Post, it often seems as if there’s an unspoken expectation to “come out of a cancer diagnosis” a better person. Somehow, one is supposed to be miraculously transformed into a new and improved version of one’s former self.

The next logical step is that one should “thank” cancer for this.

I don’t think so. 

People with or without cancer are just people, no better or worse – all of us flawed.

Even with the flaws, maybe even partly because of them, each life is a gift.

People are gifts. 

Cancer will never be.

What do you think?

Is cancer a gift?

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Cancer Is Not a Gift! #cancersucks #breastcancer #advocacy #womenshealth

Boyd Belmore

Wednesday 27th of June 2018

I can relate to all those who have had a very negative experience with cancer. Is there a positive experience? Yes there is. I was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2015. I am in remission now. Not only am I in remission but I am in the best shape of my life. I would not have been it it wasn't for the cancer diagnosis. I am really taking care of myself and my vitals have never been better. I am exercising regularly and watching very carefully what i eat. To me it was maybe not a gift but a wake-up call


Thursday 28th of June 2018

Boyd, Thank you for sharing how you feel about this. My best to you.


Friday 27th of June 2014

Thank you for your perspective, Nancy. I am a person who sees my own cancer situation as a gift. I am careful about who I say that to because I know that it has the power to enrage some survivors but it's how I feel. I wasn't an asshole before cancer and I had a decent enough life. But my cancer diagnosis (and the treatment that followed) was like a huge magic eraser for me - all the self-doubt, the feelings of "not being good enough", the living a mediocre life - that all just fell away. When I finished with my chemo and radiation I felt like I'd been given the gift of a new perspective and I've made major changes in my life to reflect that. Those things wouldn't have happened if not for my cancer experience. I know that my story is part of the cultural expectation and typical of what people expect from a cancer survivor. And I certainly don't begrudge people who don't feel as though cancer was a gift to them. But for me it really was. I find it strange myself when I reflect on my time in cancer treatment and how it was not only the worst time in my life but also the best. Cancer showed me how much I was loved and cared for by the people in my life. It showed me how tough I could be. It exposed me and it healed me. I'm a young woman, in my 30's and cancer did take things away from me - my fertility for one. That's a loss and I feel it everyday. So, I relate to those people who feel that there is nothing good about the cancer experience. It's just not my experience. It's important though that people who don't have my experience have a place to share how they feel without judgment. No one who has been through what we have should feel like they have to meet someone's definition of a "good cancer patient". There is no right way to have cancer.


Friday 27th of June 2014

Margaret, I appreciate your perspective. I don't think anyone has every said nothing good comes from the cancer experience. I have had some good things happen, but in my mind that is far different than calling cancer a gift. I cannot do that. The losses are too great. The pain is too intense. The hurts are too deep. Thanks for sharing your insights.


Monday 19th of May 2014

If believing cancer is a gift helps some people cope, more power to them, but I certainly can't see it that way. This effing thing isn't a gift it's a disgrace, a curse, a tragedy.

That said, I am at least trying to see it as an opportunity. Everything that happened (I'm not the cancer patient btw, I'm the helpless husband) turned our lives upside down, and made me realize several things that were holding our lives back but were ignored or unnoticed, things that can be changed and improved. It also brought a whole new meaning to that "live everyday like it's your last" cliché" that's cliché for a reason, but few people really practice it.

So I am hoping to use this disaster and my new perception of things to make as many positive changes as I can, not because cancer is a gift (the very thought annoys me a little), but in a "make the most out of a bad situation"way.

Amanda Hayler

Friday 20th of December 2013

It is not a gift....simple as that...who would want cancer as a gift. I had primary breast cancer 10 years ago, my dad died of lung cancer 6 years ago, I was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer two years ago, and my uncle was diagnosed with multiple myeloma last January. Yeah we love cancer gifts in my family!


Friday 20th of December 2013

Amanda, I'm sorry about all the cancer in your family. Yeah, a gift it is not. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Elizabeth J.

Friday 20th of December 2013

During cancer, I have received many gifts, but they come from the love and caring of the people in my life, not from cancer. Cancer is no gift. The Bible says "Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep." It does not condemn those who weep. Neither should we judge or minimize the our own or others' sufferings. And cancer is suffering! I can come to a place where I accept the fact of cancer in my life as something I cannot change. I can then move on from there to restore joy in my life, joy from family, friends, beauty, books, music, joy that comes from gratitude for life itself.....but cancer gives no joy, it is not a gift. It steals health. It steals years of life. It stole my grandmother's life. Cancer is an evil, not a gift.


Friday 20th of December 2013

Elizabeth, I agree completely. Cancer is more like a thief. It takes and takes... Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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