Go Ahead, Play the Cancer Card, Yes You


“C” by Jenni Douglas, flickr.com, creative commons

“Why wait until you’re sick? Play the cancer card. Live right now.” A beautiful early summer day beckoned, grasses and leaves pulsed with vitality, breezes pushed bumblebee bottoms from blossom to blossom. It was her first day off after a strenuous work week, and my friend, let’s call her Sara, RULLY didn’t want to go to the event she’d promised to attend on her single free day. What she wanted to do, what she needed, was to go for a hike. The idea of being cooped up indoors with a mob of contentious, bickering delegates made her cringe inside.

When I had cancer, I HAD to play the cancer card, albeit reluctantly. I got good at it. I broke promises, rescheduled appointments at the last minute, asked for help to complete my obligations and often just STOPPED what I was doing because I simply could not. I.just.could.not. And you know what? The world didn’t even wobble on its axis! No dragons wakened in their lairs. Things continued just fine without me. (Which was unnerving, since I’d been under the impression that the world was contingent upon my presence. That’s a topic for a different story).

Now I know. You don’t have to have cancer to prioritize your life. Why wait? You don’t have to be sick to live. What are you waiting for? Why wait to live each day as if it were nearly your last, as if each conversation were precious, and each activity were one of your final moments. Trust me, it won’t seem so bad to cancel the bad date, to play hookey at work sometimes, to let the housework or paperwork go while you spend time in the woods in silence.It will be worth it!

Go ahead, play the “cancer card,” even if you are not sick. In doing so, live a more fulfilled life, with less stress, and likely, less illness. Sara went for a hike, came home tired and peaceful, and slept better than she had in months.


4 thoughts on “Go Ahead, Play the Cancer Card, Yes You

  1. You are so right about all this. I’ve been sick off and on all my life, it seems—since I had a tumor removed from my brain when I was 19. Since my pituitary is destroyed, I must take hormones artificially and often pick up illnesses easily and recover slow and hard. I’ve had to cancel so many things. But, you’re right. The world goes on. And I go on. I think I’m just getting used to the way I am now, at 70 years old. Keep living. Do all you can. And accept your weaknesses—there’s no shame.


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