February 1, 2011

I was a jerk before cancer too

But I am sometimes a Mega-Jerk now.

Cancer changed everything in an instant. The point that it happened is easy to remember. It was after this sentence: 'Ben, we found what is likely to be a malignant cancer'

[Boom -- Snap -- World View Warp]

and before this one: 'we will have some pathology results back in three days'.

I'm not special, having your world view changed by a cancer diagnosis happens to nearly everyone that faces cancer. So I won't go on about it here. What I will talk about is how this warped world view can affect the people around someone with cancer.

I sometimes go through all of these in an hour
People with cancer feel alone. I have cancer, and as much as my Mum wants to take the cancer from me, she can't. I am the one with the tumour. It is mine, in my body and mine to fight. This makes people with cancer appear selfish because only things that help them fight cancer become important. Everything else becomes unimportant.

Things that have become unimportant:

  •  Post-it notes
  • Answering my phone
  • The weather
  • Sweeping the kitchen floor
  • Newspapers or news in general
  • Putting dishes away
  • Replying to text messages
  • Other people's needs (that's quite a broad area of disinterest hey)

You can see how that last point may affect those around me. To make this easier for people I have developed a series of witty sound bites when confronted with something on my 'Things that have become unimportant list'.

Examples of using humour to combat cancer:

'Mum, I can't sweep the kitchen floor because I am too busy trying to STAY ALIVE'

'Tim I am stopping this meeting early, I need to go for a run. Exercise fights cancer. You want me to live, right?'

'Fighting Cancer isn't on your To-Do List is it, idiot?'

'Sorry for making a mess...and for having cancer'

The items on my to-do list have changed considerably 


  1. does this mean you used to do all those things -- sweep, put dishes away, keep up with the news & other people's needs? I am impressed.

  2. Dont you know that BB is the most domesticated man in the universe? hahaha thats all he does is sweep and put dishes away!

  3. By the way - love your choice of Ekman's emotion pictures. Did you know these are the ones that I worked with for years for Hottmar?