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Keeping It Real. Support You Can Use.

Keeping it real. Support you can use. If you’ve subscribed to my email list, you already know these two phrases pretty much sum up what I try to do here on the blog. They’re sort of like my mission statements. But what do they really mean, and am I actually delivering on either one? 

What does keeping it real mean?

I decided long ago I would not sugarcoat my breast cancer experience. I blame the pink ribbon, rah-rah, I’m a better person post diagnosis for a lot of the misunderstanding that is out there regarding breast cancer reality. With all the pretty-in-pink and other pink ribbon culture nonsense that’s gone on for years, what are people supposed to think?

Far too many still presume breast cancer to be a bump in the road.

You get diagnosed. You go through a year or so of treatment. And then voila, you return to your old life (if only). And you not only return, you’re expected to return as a better version of your former self, a revamped you. You’ve rearranged your priorities. You’ve gleaned life lessons that could only be learned from cancer (just another way to frame it as a gift, IMO). You’ve learned to stop to smell the roses. You’ve seen the light, though what light, I’m not exactly sure. You’ve been transformed.

Miraculously, you’ve become a new and improved you. And if not, why not – in other words, what’s wrong with you?

As you likely know by now, I do not believe in this way of looking at the breast cancer experience. It’s a horrible disease. Treatments are rough. The side effects can be life-long. The risk of recurrence remains. For those with metastatic disease, treatment never ends. (So stop asking them when they’ll be “done”). People continue to die from it, for crying out loud. Loved ones do not go unscathed either. (Dear Hubby certainly could and would attest to this).

As far as I’m concerned cancer sucks. Period.

Having said all this, keeping it real also means some people feel I’m too negative. Some prefer a more varnished approach. For example, just last week, when someone unsubscribed to my newsletter, the reason she offered (and I appreciated her offering a reason, btw) was, no substance and too negative a tone for me. As one who strives to write about a wide variety of breast cancer related issues and topics, I had to wonder about the lack of substance part. I gathered from the other half of her comment, she meant I should be more uplifting. And do you remember the book club review of my memoir?

Some readers prefer not to read “so much” about metastatic disease, death and dying. I understand that, to a point. But I won’t be silent either. That would be like abandoning reality, like abandoning my mother and all the others who face or have faced metastatic disease. Not gonna happen.

I fully realize this blog and my memoir are not for everyone. Nor should they be. There are a lot of breast cancer blogs out there and loads of books about it too. Everyone has different wants, needs, concerns and preferences. That old saying, you can’t please everyone, is certainly true here, too.

I admit, sometimes it is tricky to find that balance. Keeping it real. Support you can use. I want to deliver on both. Can you have one without the other? I think not.

Ultimately, I believe keeping it real IS the best way to be supportive. 

I believe this to be true when talking about grief as well as cancer.

I’ve been writing about grief since this blog’s beginning, too. Grief and cancer go hand in hand, and the parallels are quite striking at times. And just as with cancer, many people prefer not to think, talk or read about the reality of grief either and if they do, generally they prefer not to do so for very long. Again, there’s that perception that the sooner you “deal with it” and put it behind you, the better you are at handling things.

Cancer is messy. Grief is messy too. Figuratively and literally. Messy is hard. Messy is sometimes negative. Messy is human. Messy is real. 

So, I will continue to keep it real. Among other things, I will continue to share about my cancer and grief experiences and the life-long impact of both, messy parts and all.

Keeping it real. Support you can use.

I’ll keep trying to deliver on both.

Count on it, the trying part anyway.

Don’t miss out in 2018! Get more articles from Nancy’s Point in your inbox once a week. Click Here.

What sort of support do you look for online and/or here on this blog? 

Do you share openly about the messy parts of cancer, grief and other things, or not so much?

Has anyone told you (or implied) that you’re too negative, regarding your cancer experience or any other challenges, for that matter?


Keeping it real. Support you can use.





Monday 5th of February 2018

I'm so grateful to have the support of this blog. Through you and your commenters I've found that I'm not alone. It really really helps to know that. So I want to thank you for providing this forum and also give a shout out to all of your followers who feel comfortable enough to share their experiences. I read every single comment and treasure the honesty I read there. The commenters have also "kept it real" and in doing so, have helped me immeasurably. I've been pretty open about sharing my personal experience with cancer. If anyone asks, I tell, but as time goes on, fewer and fewer people ask. That's the hard part. Cancer is just as much a part of my life now as when I was diagnosed and treated two years ago. Having said that, I still enjoy life to the max. I love to laugh, take joy in every day activities, and pleasure in the little things in life. Because of that, nobody has ever told me outright that I'm too negative. However, I'm pretty sure that when I bring up the latest crappy side effect from AT, they're thinking it. Eyes are averted, nervous shuffling ensues, and the conversation is quickly diverted to the latest weather report or political scandal. I try not to be too hard on them though. Not every one can handle keeping it real.


Tuesday 6th of February 2018

Lennox, I appreciate your kind words about this space. Keeping it real is so vital. I know what you mean when you say, eyes are averted, nervous shuffling ensues and the conversation is quickly diverted. Mostly, people don't ask me cancer related stuff anymore. Which is fine, and it's one more reason I keep blogging because I'm not done talking about it. This gives me a place to "put it". Your last sentence says a lot. Thank you for helping to keep it real here.

Cancer Curmudgeon

Tuesday 30th of January 2018

All the thumbs up!!!! xoxoxo


Wednesday 31st of January 2018

CC, Thank you. :)


Thursday 25th of January 2018

Yes isn’t it interesting how many people are afraid to hear the messy unpleasant stuff that is cancer. I was interested in who disappeared from my life during treatment who then returned in the hope that it was all nice and tidy again, and with me ready to change the subject! I keep those precious friends close to hand who were there for me throughout, and try to understand that those less supportive are struggling with the ‘real-ity’ of their own mortality.

Regarding this wonderful site, keeping it real must be hard for anyone involved with providing a cancer blog because there is such a weight of responsibility on the blogger in terms of ethical writing. I have not read your book Nancy, but I wonder how much you have have had to leave out for litigious reasons. Saying how it is for you must be difficult; I am particularly thinking of big pharma and the dominant oncology discourse around breast cancer treatment (and other cancers). I decided to stop taking aromatase inhibitors; it is easy for me to report this here. I found the features on ‘The Dark Side of AIs’ very useful, thank you. But there is still the ‘unsaid’, the ‘unsayable’ that would ruffle too many feathers. There is still a sense that those taking AIs might be self-censoring their posts because of the norms and values associated with being a woman / patient, and sociatal expectations about roles and responsibilities. If we real-ly say how it is, it might not go down well in a world that runs, and profits from, the oncology show. How much can one individual ‘woman’ dispute the efficacy ‘for her’ of any particular drug, in the face of big pharma. How much can a blogger discuss the ‘real’ side effects for her of AIs when she might be accused of irresponsibility? What self sacrifice must she make in her effort to be ethical in her writing? What would ‘keeping it real’ real-ly look like if she did not have this burden of responsibility? I am in awe of you Nancy, but there is a long way to go before the mythologies surounding oncology and the drugs industry are exposed for what they are. I do not attack the individuals striving to provide the services, but the culture around them that perpetuates the myth of certainty in the uncertain world of cancer research and treatment. On that note, has anyone become interested in the world on bisphosphonates? Now there’s a controversial subject! I refused to take them, but need therefore to qualify, that what might feel right for me may not be an appropriate decision for others........

I send you you my heartfelt best wishes and sincere gratitude for providing a space for me to write and for the best forum I have found that strives to keep it real.


Thursday 25th of January 2018

Sarah, Your comment packs a punch! There is lots in there to ponder. You are right, I do feel a responsibility to keep my writing ethical, but I don't see that as making a sacrifice. I'm also pretty open, though of course, not about everything. This is the internet after all. There are lines I cannot and will not cross, for various reasons, mostly privacy related. I'm glad you feel comfortable sharing here. Thank you for doing just that. I appreciate that you feel this is a good forum.


Wednesday 24th of January 2018

Thanks for keeping it real. That is why I started to come here and subscribe. I've written much here in the past in comments. You don't know me, I know, but I have often said how much these posts help. Six months after ending my hercepton ---- I cannot even say the C word to folks. Nobody wants to hear I "had" cancer, just like when I had it and treatment nobody I know wanted to know. My sister only wanted to to hear that I was "fine" and sometimes told me to put a big smile on my face. The last time, after having mentioned in an email (long story) that I needed to sometimes talk about my treatments, ongoing stuff, etc she said OK (she had complained to someone in my family about my "complaining about cancer" ) Then in a phone call after that, when I mentioned the myriad of follow up I was doing, and some collateral damage I was dealing with, she told me I didn't have to talk about treatments "every time" EVERY TIME? Mamma mia, I never did with her and she had recently told me in that email she wanted to "hear about the stuff". I rarely read anything cancer related these days due to the denial of anyone around me, best to leave it aside, but I do like to check in here. Honesty is key, Empathy is sorely missing in many. Ellie

Donna Funkhouser

Monday 29th of January 2018

Ellie, I can so relate to your experience. I have found that everyone wants to hear that I am just fine, even when I am far from it. And if I did attempt to share the down side they would say, well, you look good. Almost downgrading what I was going through and making me feel like a big whiner. I've learned the hard way who I can be honest with. Thanks for sharing.


Thursday 25th of January 2018

Ellie, Some people, for whatever reason, don't want to hear about these things, as you know. I'm glad you feel comfortable sharing here. I always appreciate your insightful comments. Thank you.

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