How to Beat Cancer Like it Stole Something

January 28, 2014 — 55 Comments
Punch in the Face Impact

Hot Kiss At the End of A Wet Fist

Daily Prompt: BFFs

The big “C” has met its match in the form of my BFF, a formidable Bad Ass from the Bronx, and they don’t play. 

Her cancer is teaching people a lesson in strength the likes of which they’ve NEVER seen.

This is a how-to list for people who want cancer to feel a punch like the hot kiss at the end of a wet fist.

1. Get pissed off.  Not sad. Not “why me.”

More like, This is bullshit!

“I have things to do. I have Lucero tickets in Boston. I’m seeing Patti Smith at Webster Hall.

I have a 3 day Americana Festival in Little Rock with friends all over the country.

My students cannot have a cruddy substitute for a month.

I do not have TIME for this CRAP.”

2. Do NOT buy anything pink. It’s not flattering for your complexion.

Refuse to be a walking billboard for “I have breast cancer.”

When the Zappos box comes with the pink Air Jordans Breast Cancer Awareness Limited Edition, call the responsible party (me),

“The FUCK?”

Refuse the offer of matching pink breast cancer awareness tee shirts from your college bestie as if she’s just offered you mouth herpes.

Tell her, If you want to buy me something, buy me some really good wine.

I could use a drink, or three.

3. Go to work. Go the gym. Live your life. Keep on keeping on.

4. Do research. The best doctors. The best hospital. The one across from Harvard Medical school. If there ever was a time to be an “academic SNOB” this is it.

Be very, very picky about the doctors cutting you open. This is not about how lean a butcher can cut a brisket.

5. Tell only a few people. But the word gets out.

Don’t listen appreciatively to those “It was horrible, but in the end I realized I was not my breasts” stories.

Be brutally honest. As always.

Tell them, “YOU are married. 20 years. You’re not your breasts. You’re probably not even your vagina.

I am single. I am DATING. Men like tits. So, shut the fuck up.”

6. Go to work. Go the gym. Live your life. Keep on keeping on.

7. For the first and maybe only time in your life, ask for help. Stop being so goddamn independent.

This ONE time. Allow your college bestie to arrange to take a week off from work to stay with you after the surgery. You’re going to need help.

8. WORK like a maniac to make sure every little thing in your classroom is handled while you’re gone for a month.

Your students will not miss a beat while you’re out. These are your kids. They matter.

9. On the morning of your surgery, when they screw up, and painfully inject you with tracers, repeatedly, WITHOUT sedation, get ANGRY.

Cuss a blue streak. Cause a SCENE.

When the doctors tell you they can’t operate on you if you’re “worked up” like this, tell they can go FUCK themselves.

And offer to stick knitting needles in their ball sacks.

10. Sneak your cell phone in the recovery room, against the rules.

After waking up from recovery, drug-text your friends. They have no clue what you’re writing, but they are so happy.

Text your BFF:

plsc sturgn i HOT! haha fkc

She sees this, and knows you are fine.

11. That night, have the nurse take a picture of you giving 2 thumbs up and send it to all your friends. It’s the best picture everyone’s ever received.

12. Leave the hospital looking like a movie star. Sunglass. Scarf tied with flair. Cute boots. Look a thousand times better than your bestie, who just drove 300 miles on no sleep to take care of you. Bitch.

13. Don’t rest, despite what the doctors say. You have a high pain threshold – you always have.

14. When you thank your BFF for being here, she reminds you that you, in fact, saved HER life freshman year when she washed down quaaludes with far too much alcohol, and you had to call an ambulance so she could get her stomach pumped.

Somehow, on all those pain meds, remember every detail of that story from 27 YEARS AGO. Laugh your ass off.

“Hahahah you drank 17 White Russians because it was your 17th birthday!!

We came to get you out of the hospital the next day and there were bars on the window hahahahaha.”

Repeat that story to EVERY PERSON WHO COMES TO THE DOOR THAT day.

The visiting nurse. The flower delivery person. A neighbor stopping by with food.

15. LAUGH. CONSTANTLY .

Stay up late with your BFF, making jokes and laughing about everything and everyone.

Extra points if it’s a sex joke, at this very unsexy time in your life.

Double extra points if it’s about that gross blood pus drain your BFF has to empty three times a day.

Double Triple extra points if you combine sex AND drain jokes:

Hey, lets’ go cruise Brockton for black men!

“C’mere, Big Daddy! You may have fucked a white girl before, but did you ever fuck one with a drain?”

16. Don’t take any pain meds after the first day. Not one, you bad ass.

Let your college bestie have them.

Not really.

Okay, just a few.

17. BLAST MUSIC. Lots of it. CONSTANTLY.

Dance around the house with your bestie. Try not to pop a stitch.

18. WAKE YOUR BESTIE UP BY SCREAMING INTO THE PHONE REALLY LOUD AT 8 AM when you find out they’ve not gotten a long term sub for your class.

Spend 2 hours ranting on the phone to the department supervisor.

You may have cancer, but your students will NOT fall an entire month behind because of it.

19. Go on the Victoria Secret website and ship for beautiful, sexy bras.

You’re getting new breasts in a couple of months. They’re gonna need a new home.  Several.

20. NINE days after your surgery, make it to the Lucero concert, as promised. The whole Boston indie music scene applauds when you walk in the door.

Including the band.

21. One month, post surgery, go back to work. Go to the gym. Live your life. Keep on keeping on.

22. When you get the pathology report back after the surgery, and

It’s worse than you thought. Way worse.

Don’t get scared. Or angry.

Because once again, you get that little voice in your head – you got it when you had the brain tumor, remember?

The one that said, “everything is going to be okay.” I believe this is what they call “Faith.”

23. Never, ever, once feel sorry for yourself. Why YOU? Because. Shit happens. This is not a death sentence. Not yet.

24. Make your usual Christmas plans with your family and bestie and her kid. Invite MORE people than ever.

Tell her, hell yes, I can do this. I have cancer. I’m not DEAD.

25. Cause your bestie to DRIVE off the road into a snowbank when you text her, “HELLO, it’s me!” And it’s an enormous picture of you, completely bald.

That was fast. One chemo treatment.

Hope your insurance covers my front end alignment, you crazy bitch.

26. Don yourself with armor. Prepare to do battle. Arm yourself with knowledge. Ready yourself for radiation, chemo. More surgery.

You are fierce.

You are a warrior.

27. Most of all, YOU ARE LOVED. By so many.

And – your BFF, for almost 30 years now,

your-sister-of-the-heart,

that girl whose life you saved when she was 17?

IS NOT READY TO LET YOU GO? Okay?

So you go, girl!

Beat cancer like it stole something!

 

Have you been close to someone fighting cancer? How do you help them? 

Talk to me. I’m listening. 

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55 responses to How to Beat Cancer Like it Stole Something

  1. 

    This is fabulous. I had 21 kamikazes or something like that on my 21st birthday. There was vomit involved. I wish I had a story like this but I don’t. My mother died 4 months after being diagnosed with lung cancer. She knew she had it before she was diagnosed, I’m sure she did. Lung cancer is not a surprise when you smoke like it’s your job. But she just quit. My mom who did everything for everyone all the time just said, fuck it. She just gave up and five years later that still pisses me off. I miss her and I wish her last months had been a fight and not a resignation.

    I love this story and I’m sure you will keep us posted.

    Going to Brockton to cruise black guys. hahaha My only black friend when I lived in Boston was from Brockton.

    • 

      Maggie, I’m so sorry about your mom.

      My BFF is a fighter. Always has been.

      And yes, Brockton is where the African American community of Boston resides – if one were inclined to seek them out.

      Thanks for reading, and commenting.

  2. 

    You display all the makings of an excellent wing woman in this fight against the cancer beast, Samara. You college bff is one strong woman. I applaud you both. Hallelujah, as Leonard Cohen wrote and sang best.

    • 

      Mark,

      That’s the second time someone has sent me that song in the last 2 weeks.

      You and Jennie Saia. I love that song.

      Yes, my college bestie is quite strong. Thank you.

  3. 

    This list needs to be printed out and given to anyone fighting cancer right now. You are an awesome BFF.

  4. 

    My best friend died of cancer at age 28 from ocular cancer. We kept each other laughing until the end. Win or lose, it’s the best way to fight it because the memories you make — whether looking back on them together or alone — will be the kind you want to hold on to. I think your piece is right on: be a badass, laugh in the face of it and hold on to the things that make you “you,” which has nothing to do with anything that can ever be removed with a scalpel.

    • 

      Ned-
      You say the best things-

      thank you so much for that piece of courage, and inspiration.

      I’m so sorry about your friend. I’m sure he lives inside of you, every day.

  5. 

    Rule a – have a bestie like you.

  6. 

    I’ve lost two family members to nasty life threatening diseases. My maternal grandfather had brain cancer as a result of smoking since the age of nine. My dad’s sister contracted AIDS because her stupid husband couldn’t keep it in his pants (can you tell that irritates me?)
    Anyway, grampa died when I was six and my aunt died when I was twenty-seven or so. I didn’t know either of them were dying until just before they’d already died. It still doesn’t feel fair to some parts of me.

    • 

      I’m so sorry for those losses, Cimmy.

      And as usual, thank you for your support.

      • 

        Glad to do it. I need some chocolate now. I may decide to just sit in a bathtub and eat nothing but bonbons for an hour.

      • 

        Oh, no.

        I know what it means when you need chocolate.

        go find Jak or the kids and get some snuggles. You’re upset.

        😦

      • 

        jak’s dad needs him, so he’s not here. Boy’s caregiver is here, so he’s busy too. Princess is using the computer and I don’t want to call her away from it. I am upset. I can’t help it.

      • 

        I wouldn’t have even written this- it’s making my heart ache horribly

        But sometimes in a very, very great while,

        a prompt speaks to me. Loud. This one really did. How could it not? She’s my college BFF. My sister.

        Believe me, I cried the whole time I was writing it.

      • 

        Yeah, I’m glad you wrote it. I’m looking at publishing something just as gut wrenching as that as soon as Zero to Hero is over with. On the lighter side, jak brought me Raisinets. He rules.

  7. 

    My mom was diagnosed with lung cancer. There was very little they could do for her because it was caught too late. She immediately went into denial. She refused any kind of treatment. I mean… if you don’t have cancer (in her mind), you don’t need treatment, right? She looked the oncologist right in the eye and said, “With all due respect, I think you’re full of shit.” Yep. That was my mom. She told me, “I’m not ready to die”, and she LIVED HER LIFE. She lived twice as long as the doctors thought she would. Attitude is everything! And she would have approved of your list, Samara. She would have SO approved.

  8. 

    She is lucky to have you (and vice versa). Sending awesomely good thoughts y’all’s way, my friend!

  9. 

    This may be the most moving and funny post I ever read.

  10. 

    Every cell is a potential traitor.

    A week ago my friend told me her cancer was back (see short blog?).

    Yesterday the oncologist confirmed how things were – bone mets (ribs, spine, arms & pelvis) & lung mets. That would explain the breathlessness & hacking cough then & why her ribs broke when the dog pulled her over whilst walking on the beach as always

    Two options; do nothing – expected time left to cause mischief would be 3 weeks or go for an unlicensed treatment – feel crap, pins & needle’s in your hands and feet and your arse. Outcome death but maybe not so quick.

    Dear friend…

    What a space you will leave…

    What memories though! I’ll never forget your delight in shocking people by showing off you new breasts, and insisting we all had a feel…

    And now, when I have my arms around you feeling you against me, still resolutely defiant, who is comforting who?

    There no words that will change or delay what’s now inevitable. But life is lived one moment after another and you have to live it…keep on keeping on

    Brilliant blog Samara for so many reasons

    • 

      Such a beautiful comment-

      And she is comforting me. Constantly. Ironically.

      I wish it wasn’t so.

      • 

        As the orange sun fades,
        The sparkling starlight intensifies,
        In the darkening sky…

        Natural doesn’t make it easy, life’s a bitch. Sometimes beautiful, sometimes malign. Hold fast to what is good

  11. 

    Hi there; love reading your stuff…
    I’m I self-proclaimed survivor (though will technically be on the remission list because I have osteo sarcoma AKA bone cancer that’s considered “terminal” by my moron doctors).
    I was diagnosed at age 16 (and I’m a 16-year-old’s mom now) they said I didn’t have long and basically told me to let go of life but I didn’t.
    Never could. Never will. It’s just not in my blood. Cancer ‘n me been in the ring about twenty years and counting now and I’m not anywhere closer to resigning now than I was back then – I’m a better fighter, well-decorated with armor (great metaphor btw) through the knowledge of my own research, as you listed. Above,
    you not only listed very the essence of survival when it comes to a throat-chop at that weaselly little bitch named Cancer;

    but you’ve also succeeded in capturing and freezing (in cyberspace, at least) the very essence of faith, friendship, inspiration and most importantly – HOPE. Thank you for posting this.

    • 

      You just brought tears to my eyes.

      Did I really? Capture the essence of faith, friendship, inspiration and hope? Oh God, I hope so.

      I hope she feels all of that from me. Some days, I feel I let her down. Or that I lean too heavily on her, and she’s the sick one.

      Thank you for finding me, for reading, and for commenting. I’m so grateful that you did.

      • 

        There’s a strange balance to being alive – to living – to surviving, right? I will say that you have (for me, at least) grabbed so many tiny threads of detail and tied them together into something truly amazing and genuinely uplifting; it brought tears to my eyes while I read it, and I’m no sissy. Keep writing and keep hoping.

      • 

        Hope is all I got right about now, sister.
        That, and love.
        Thank you so much.

  12. 

    You know, you read posts and you read posts and snicker and you chortle you read posts and your read posts and you sit back in you chair and ponder something and your read posts and you read posts and you yell “he’s full of shit” at the monitor and you read posts and read posts and then…full stop. You get to those posts where you feel the viscera and spittle and heart juice just dripping down the screen. The kind of words that were put together Mega Block style in a manner that couldn’t be replicated again. Spur of the moment, heart of the matter, passion up to the eyeballs kind of structure.

    And this is one of those posts.

    It’s like those drag racing cars that need a parachute at the end to get it to roll back into gear. This is the parachute, my friend. Right here. I could feel this one being born, man. The gristle of the steak…plus the steak. What a trip. And a pleasure to read. Your friend has a secret weapon in the arsenal, and it’s you. How wicked assed is that? It’s like having a sniper on your dodgeball team…you ain’t seen nothing yet.

    Just wonderful to read and to take in. I don’t have the experience of seeing someone go through this or having passed from it. yet. It’s a matter of time. But if and when it happens, I have a blueprint. There’s an app for that.

    Thank you for this. Special stuff.

    Paul

  13. 

    I wish I knew how a friend of mine is dealing with T-cell lymphoma.

    This is the cancer Mr. T had… no joke. I wanted to see if I could get him an autographed photo of Mr. T. But I am writhing in my own pain.

    I went to a funeral a little while ago. I wrote a post about it, not going to look it up now, but I can if you want. She died after fighting four different cancers. Yeah, took four of ’em to finally take her down.

    I’m sorry my comment is depressing. I am struggling to do better than that.

    • 

      My post is depressing. I think.

      Or uplifting. I’m not sure.

      Some found it uplifting. It made me sad. But it made my BFF laugh, and I will do pretty much anything to make her laugh.

      And to recognize her fierceness.

  14. 

    I’ve never been through anything like this. As a patient. Or as the supportive friend.

    But this rings true. I’ll try to file it away in a double-gender, super-reversal kind-of way.

    Lot of laughs this morning, thanks to you. God bless your BFF.

  15. 

    My maternal grandmother was probably the closest person I’ve been to that has battled cancer. And I was so very young when it happened that I don’t remember much. We made cards for her, my brother and I, and we went to see her in the hospital at least once. I can’t even tell you what kind of cancer she battled and won. But, battle she did. She was a spitfire. Took no grief from nothing and noone. Wasn’t going to let cancer come in and change that around.

    I have this picture in my head of you and your bff, armed to the teeth, strapping on your boots as you prepare to go cancer hunting. The trolls you used to hunt are breathing a sigh of relief, but cancer is cowering as it feels your eyes seek it out. There is only one outcome here. You and your bff have never lost a battle before. You will not lose this one. Cancer knows that and cancer is afraid.

  16. 

    Mine wasn’t cancer, it was 5 heart surgeries. But it is eerily applicable. I could not agree with you more. Even the breast part. I am single. I don’t want a giant scar down my chest. Or a pacemaker. Thankfully, it never got to that point.

  17. 

    Hey samara… you’ll get a pingback on this, of course, but… I wrote more about how cancer has impacted me, or rather, how it has impacted friends and family. It was in our local news: I had to write about Lisa again, and how her brother is climbing Kilimanjaro to raise money for cancer.

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