Form over Substance

There are usually good reasons for doing something the same way every single time.  Protocols and procedures are extremely helpful, especially when someone’s health is on the line.  When I was practicing law, I had lots of policies and procedures, especially for new hires and the people at the front desk.   When there are employees who need to be trained with bright line rules, its much easier not to give said employees the room to think things through and adjust to the patient/client in front of them.

BUT

Now that I’m on the other side of the equation, I really do have a very different view. Some of those form over substance rules get pretty freaking irritating when it happens over and over and over.  Everyone needs to think about how they are being experienced by the person who is the patient/client from the front desk person all the way to the person/people running the show.

Here are some of my pet peeves, in no particular order:

  1. I absolutely understand that if someone is pregnant, then certain tests are not possible because of danger to the baby.  However, if I tell you that I had a complete hysterectomy in 2017 and two minutes later, you ask if I’m pregnant, it just seems like you aren’t listening.  Also, that’s in my file.
  2. If information like medications and surgeries are in the medical file, why do I get asked every single time I come in, what medication I’m taking and how many and what kind of surgeries I’ve had?  Could someone take 2 minutes and look at the file?  I have a timeline and charts of medication and treatment for new doctors, but if I’m an established patient, I don’t have the patience to go over and over the same things that are in my file. Plus sometimes going through that list is triggering and ptsd symptoms are no joke.
  3. I’m 100% on board with checking for new allergies, especially drug allergies, but if you ask “what kind of allergies do you have,” how am I supposed to know if you want to know if I’m allergic to dust mites or medication or latex?  Being precise is helpful and means I don’t have to list things that you don’t care about.
  4. I’m in pain all the time.  ALL.THE.TIME.  When I’m asked if I have any pain today and I answer, yes, I deal with pain all the time at a level 3-4 on the pain scale, a little chuckle is not the appropriate response.  I wasn’t trying to be funny by saying I’m in pain all the time.  Seriously.  I’m in PAIN all the time.  Not humorous and certainly not for someone who isn’t me to chuckle about.
  5. I had a LOT of surgeries in 2017.  Sometimes I’m at a place in my treatment and my mental health that I can joke about it.  Sometimes I can say, 2017 was a shitty year.  Because it was.  However, no medical provider gets to quip, after I’ve finished going through all the surgeries I had in 2017, that 2017 was a bad year for me.  I particularly hate the southern “well, bless your heart, honey.”  Nope. Nope. Nope.  You don’t know me, you don’t know what it was like and if I’m not joking about it, you can’t.

Again, I get that patient safety is important and that some of this information is necessary; however, I really do think that applying basic humanity to the thought process or the actual experience of handling these questions can really inform the substance.

I have started asking various support staff if they would handle the conversation the same way if they were talking to their mother.  I get a lot of weird looks, but I’m used to that.  Teaching empathy is something that I’m trying to apply to my parenting and I figure that I can do that in other places too.  Each time I’ve asked support staff this question, they stop and act far different.

Terminal cancer is not fun.  I will be in treatment for the rest of my life.  These conversations aren’t isolated, they happen all the time.  I go to the doctor’s office all the freaking time. Just a few minutes is all that’s needed to ensure that the real substance of what needs to be known is obtained rather than just ticking off a checklist.

Scanxiety

When I was initially diagnosed, I began seeing this term in many of my support groups.  I’m sure it’s no surprise to anyone that cancer metsters/thrivers have their own jargon that helps to explain the shared experiences.   It’s sometimes like learning a new language, especially the acronyms.  I’ve also found that the jargon changes in various parts of the country and the world (for example, in the UK, metastatic cancer is referred to as secondary cancer).

Some background/context …

When one is in “active treatment,” which usually involves IV chemo, the scans happen all the time.  When I say all the time, I really mean all the time.  I had so many MRIs and CTs and bone scans and x-rays crammed into a month or two in 2017, I’m surprised I’m not glowing.

And then, you fall off a cliff.

The end of “active treatment” really does feel like free falling without a parachute or any knowledge of how far down the bottom actually is.

Even though “active treatment” can be overwhelming and painful and horrifying and will forever be blurry because of all the medication, it also feels productive.  With each and every IV or pill or even the side effects, it feels like something is being DONE about the crazy cancer cells.  Family and friends rally around you, meals are delivered, and even though sometimes putting one foot in front of the other takes strength you didn’t know you had, it can feel triumphant when you reach each milestone.

And then it stops.

Well, treatment never really stops for us metsters, but everything slows waaaaayyyyy down once that initial “active treatment” ends. Scans go from weekly to monthly to quarterly and, now, every 6 months for me.  Check ins with the medical oncologist become spread out too and the safety net that you began to expect, to rely upon, is missing.

At first, that return to “real life” where cancer isn’t front and center, feels like you are visiting an alternate reality or even another planet.  All of a sudden, you have to do laundry and figure out what’s for dinner (actually, I still don’t do this, thanks, Mom!!!) and get everyone up in the morning and settle sibling squabbles. What?!?

Life just goes on and you settle into something that resembles life, irrevocably altered, but routine and “normal.”  This season is seductive.  It’s easy to think, maybe I dreamed it. Maybe it was a mistake.  Maybe I don’t really have cancer.  Maybe everything is all good now.

And then another scan comes up on the calendar.

I found the picture I pinned at the top of this post at some point while browsing online and I love it.  Scanxiety is usually defined as “uneasiness waiting for the results of scans after cancer treatment.”  Since I’ll never be done with treatment, I usually think of scanxiety as the uneasiness waiting for the results of scans after active treatment is completed in order to determine whether progression has occurred.  Maybe I’ll think of a way to make that more catchy and less wordy, but it’s a doozy.  Like really awful.

For those of us living with cancer, scanxiety truly isn’t about being afraid of the unknown, but worrying about a reoccurance of the most horrible thing that’s ever happened.  Once the news of a cancer diagnosis has turned your life upside down, there is no longer the ability to live or think as though the worst won’t happen, that the sky won’t fall again.  Once that has happened, it feels imminent, at every moment.  Every ache, every pain, every time something feels weird, the inescapable conclusion is that it must be back, it must be growing, it must be taking over and maybe this time is the last time, this time is when it will kill me.

The only way to cope is through.  The only way to calm the racing thoughts is to get the call that everything is ok, or everything is not ok, but at least you have the answer and know what you are facing.

The next time you hear that someone is facing a scan, that someone will be learning about whether they will have a reprieve from the cancer that infects their body, understand that that person is barely holding themselves upright.  Offer to help.  Offer a hug, offer a distraction, offer your presence. Check on them and then check again.

They need it.

Mother’s Day 2019

May, 2019 is the third Mother’s Day I will celebrate with cancer. It’s only the second Mother’s Day I will celebrate since knowing that I was de novo metastatic (meaning from the beginning) since it took a few months to figure that out after the initial bombshell in March, 2017.

Every holiday since cancer, especially metastatic breast cancer, takes on a new significance. Every time, I can’t help but wonder whether this is the last of whatever holiday it is that I will celebrate. Every time, I go a little more overboard in celebrating just in case it really is the last time. Every time, I have to consciously look away from the storm clouds gathering overhead, especially when a scan or other treatment is coming up.

As a daughter, I hope the celebrations and gifts for my mom have gotten better over the years. My mom is pretty forgiving and accepting of our efforts over the years, even the misguided ones. It makes my heart smile a little seeing how she has kept a variety of the trinkets and projects I made over the years for her. One of our most memorable mother’s days, for me, was driving together (just my mom and me) from Virginia to Florida after I graduated from law school. Being one of six means that we all rarely got our mother’s undivided attention. Her attention was and is priceless and coveted. Being the eldest means I still have 18 months of her undivided attention more than any of my siblings.

A few mother’s days stick out for me since becoming a mother myself. My first Mother’s Day as a new mom in 2013 when j finally got to celebrate as a mom. My first as a mother of two when we came home from the hospital on Mother’s Day in 2015 and I tandem nursed my boys for the first time, marveling at how HUGE my 2 year old eldest looked compared to his newborn brother. The very first gift I received on Mother’s Day that my son made for me at school, which I display proudly on my piano to this day. Since Mother’s Day happens during the school year, there are usually celebrations and trinkets and fun activities with the kiddos.

Each of these celebrations were and are a salve to the wound of watching other women celebrate Mother’s Day when I ached to hold a child in my arms. Each of these celebrations remind me how lucky I am to have an amazing role model in my own mom.

The older I get, the closer I get to the end of my life, the more I treasure time. Time to be with those that I love. Time to celebrate milestones and time to impart important lessons I’ve learned.

This Mother’s Day and every day, I am reminded to be grateful for the mothering I’ve received, grateful to be gifted the opportunity to be a mother to my boys and the awe-Inspiring responsibility it is to be a mother. I’m also reminded of those mother’s days when I longed to be a mom and my heart hurts for those families that feel incomplete.

Today, and every day, thank those people in your life who show love, who nurture without thoughts of reciprocation and who make life and love beautiful. Those people don’t have to be moms, dads are pretty good at nurturing too, as are Aunts and Grandmas and people who give freely of themselves. After all, Mother’s Day is just a made up holiday anyway. 😉

Holding Space

I had never heard of this concept before my cancer diagnosis and I must confess, I SUCK at holding space.  I have a hard time sitting still and so much of the time I spend listening to people, I’m thinking of how I can help them, how I can meet their needs.  Just sitting in silence or just listening to “hold space” for a person is a skill that I’m still working on.  Turning off my brain and my instincts to “DO” something about whatever is being discussed is really hard.

When I first heard of this term, I thought it sounded weird.  I’m such a literal, grounded person, that anything more subjective is often difficult to grasp at first.  As I’ve spent more time in yoga and thinking about holding space, I think it’s more helpful to me to think about what it’s not.

Holding Space is NOT ….

  1. Thinking about a witty response while half-listening to the other person.
  2. Jumping in with a story about yourself or your dog or brother or friend or whoever.
  3. Telling the other person what to do with the information they are sharing.
  4. Interrupting the other person at any point.
  5. Checking your watch and wondering when the tirade or the venting or kvetching, etc. will end.
  6. Any combination of the above five (5) no-nos.

I read in an article that I cannot find now to give proper credit that in order to hold space for someone else, you have to be able to hold space for yourself.  This view of holding space for yourself, this author suggested, was linked to the concept of self-compassion.  In other words, in order to have empathy and compassion for others, you must be able to apply that to yourself.  Being gentle with yourself, being kind in your “self-talk” and accepting that you are who you are, faults and all is a major first step before you can do the same for others.

Maybe that’s part of why I’ve had to get to a different place in my life to be able to hold space for others.  Or maybe my own life choices meant that I was never the person that others went to for holding space. As a litigator, my job was to tell people what to do and then fight for whatever it was that I was hired to do.  I was always doing.  I was always asked to be doing.

Now, not so much.

I do help as much as I can when I’m asked (and sometimes when I’m not asked!), but that part of my life has changed significantly.  Because of the people in my life who hold space for me, I can see the value in this practice, in this skill.  I see how powerful and impactful holding space can be because it has been modeled to me.

So, today, I recommit myself to practicing holding space.  Holding space for myself, for my husband, for my children, for my family, for my friends, for my fellow metsters.  I’m so much more comfortable doing something, but until then, I will hold space.

Medical Marijuana

I am not a doctor. I am not a medical provider. None of my statements in this blog should be taken as anything other than my own conclusions and personal experiences.

Anyone who knows me knows how much of a rule follower I am.  I’ve been been this way since I was quite going and then law school simply made it worse.  Much worse.  I’ve never liked feeling out of control and I’ve never liked the idea that a substance could make me either be out of control or forget what was going on — case on point, I got drunk once by accident while studying abroad and have never done that again.

Wow, how things have changed!

In previous years, I remember seeing the advocates at the courthouse asking everyone to sign the petitions in favor of medical marijuana.  I remember seeing all of the ads and the individual pleas from patients and their families to vote for the legislation that made medical marijuana legal in Florida after years of efforts.  I remember thinking that the issues had nothing to do with me and while I did vote in favor of the legislation each time it came up for a vote, I didn’t enter into any of the advocacy efforts.

I see now how wrong that was.  Just because that issue had not affected me or someone I know directly (at that time), I didn’t help when it could have helped others.  I have some regrets that I did not help support those initiatives then.

Because now I take medical marijuana daily.

It has taken me some time to figure out how to use it, how to dose myself, and how to navigate the complexities of all the different strains and options.  This is an area where my lack of experimentation earlier in my life has meant that I am not as well versed now.  I’m making up for that!

Before anyone thinks that I’m putting my children at risk, let me clarify that I only take CBD oil during the day to manage my pain and I take THC at night to help me sleep.  CBD has no psychoactive effects, which means no “high”. This means I’m not impaired in any way during the day when I’m driving around and taking care of my children.  This is important to me, that I’m able to be present and alert when caring for them.

So, a few things I’ve learned ….

  1. Everyone responds differently–just because a certain dose or strain works for me, doesn’t mean that will work for anyone else.
  2. There is a lot of bad information out there–so many websites and articles full of information that are not vetted or checked.  Proceed at your own risk!
  3. Many medical professionals, especially oncologists, are skeptical of medical marijuana–my own medical oncologist was pretty negative about my choice to avoid narcotics for pain management, but the proof is, as they say, in the pudding. She’s now comfortable telling other patients that she’s seen it work.
  4. Many medical professionals have no idea how medical marijuana can interact with any other medication, including oncology pharmacists. Doctors, like many professionals, are risk adverse for good reason, and when they don’t know, they usually recommend against.
  5. Some medical professionals who are prescribing medical marijuana are doing so unscrupulously and are not actually helpful with regard to dosaging. This describes several doctors I saw before I found my current pain management doctor. My advice is to stay away from cannibis specific practices.
  6. The efficacy of medical marijuana can vary widely by source.
  7. The cost of medical marijuana can vary widely by source.

I’ve found an amazing community online who are experimenting carefully with using medical marijuana for the treatment of cancer and the side effects of both cancer and the treatment of cancer.  Does medical marijuana actually kill cancer?  I have no idea, but outside of a few specifics, it does not appear to be causing any harm.  Taking medical marijuana to help manage my pain, my anxiety, my depression, my ptsd, my scanxiety, and helping me to sleep through the night has been one of the best things I’ve found with the fewest side effects and unintended consequences.

I’ve stayed up on the research, I’ve consulted with medical professionals who focus on the treatment of cancer with cannibis and I’ve found a pain management doctor who prescribes and follows my use carefully. Since my pain management doctor is also a palliative care doctor, she is particularly sensitive to quality of life issues, which is important to me. So many people don’t have the luxury of the same resources I’ve found and I’m always interested in finding ways to support others, to help others find the relief I’ve found from constant chronic pain without taking opioids.

While I’m not a doctor, here are a few additional details I’ve learned in my own research and experimentation …

  1. Many pharmacists and doctors say that Ibrance and CBD are contraindicated. In my research, I have discovered that this is likely because both Ibrance and CBD are processed along the same pathway in the liver. So, in my own words, if you take Ibrance and CBD oil at the same time, it overwhelms that pathway and also interferes with the efficacy of both since the processing in the liver is part of how both are activated to their highest and best use. The remedy? Take them at least two hours apart. This way, the pathway is cleared or clear enough that it does not cause an issue or interfere with the efficacy of either.
  2. The contraindication for CBD and tamoxifen is something much less simple and there does not seem to be any way to deal with it yet. I am always sad to learn that my premenopausal friends are not yet able to access this remedy while taking tamoxifen.
  3. THC is a phytoestrogen and/or increases the level of estradiol (the bad estrogen). I don’t know enough yet to understand why or how. I have discovered that most cannibis providers believe that staying until 50 mg daily of THC is best for estrogen sensitive cancer.
  4. The delivery method makes a difference. For me, the pills take way too long to affect my pain. I prefer the oil taken sublingually (under the tongue). The oil does take some time to take effect, so I have a vape pen handy if I’ve had a bad day or am expecting to be more active. I understand that Florida had just approved the ability of people to legally smoke marijuana directly (ie not vaping). I’m not a fan but that’s just my own personal comfort level. Edibles are still not legal in Florida, which makes no sense to me but I’m hopeful that will change at some point. I am frankly a big fan of gummies infused with whatever medication desired; however, I’m also aware this method of delivery can be an issue when curious children are around.

It’s been an interesting experience to delve into this alternative world that I frankly avoided up until now. I firmly believe that natural remedies can be helpful and effective when used responsibly and I am always careful to do my research and find qualified professionals to guide me.

Tell me, what are your experiences with medical marijuana? Do you know someone who takes it?

 

Fertility, Infertility and Secondary Infertility

This is a topic fraught with so many sensitive issues and let me say up front that I am not an expert on any of it. What I am is a woman, a daughter, a wife, and a mom.

Some background on me … I delayed having children on purpose because I wanted to build my career and to spend quality time with my husband. When we got married in 2008, we were both out of our 20s; well, I turned 30 a few months after we got married. When we were ready to conceive and I stopped taking birth control, we thought it would happen quickly. It didn’t. So, we went down the road of testing and monitoring my fertility closely. I quickly grew to resent the charts and forced timed intercourse that only highlighted my continued failures.

Still, no pregnancy.

We then went to a fertility specialist and went down the road of medication; fortunately, just the oral kind. It took time and there were lots of delays, many times we got our hopes up only to be disappointed, and there were many many pregnancy tests. Going every day for a vaginal ultrasound around the time of fertility was super difficult to work into my schedule and wasn’t fun.

Then, yes, we got pregnant and our eldest boy was born in 2013. Once we decided that we wanted to give him a sibling, it was back through the fertility rollercoaster once again. Different this time was that I was nursing and refused to wean just to get pregnant. (I was a difficult patient long before I got cancer!). This time, because I was nursing, I had to give myself daily shots. After months of trying and lots of shots, we were finally able to get pregnant again and our youngest son was born in 2015.

Our two boys are exceedingly precious to us, even more so because of all the effort and time and angst to get pregnant. Nursing was even more important to me because it felt like it made up for my body not doing what it was told.

Fertility was the first time my body failed to do what was supposed to be natural and normal. Finding out that I have Stage IV metastatic breast cancer was the second time my body failed me.

When we met with my breast surgeon so that she could give me the results of the breast biopsy and tell me I had breast cancer, she asked us about fertility and what our family plans were. We didn’t know how blessed we were that she was up front and discussed our options with us directly and candidly at the very beginning. Since we’d been on the fence about the possibility of a third child, the diagnosis gave us a pretty clear and definitive answer about that. At the time, it didn’t seem like another loss, but it was.

No, my experience was not to be told I would never be a mother.

No, no information was withheld from me so that it was too late to preserve my fertility.

Yes, I have two amazing little boys who I was able to carry to term.

No, I’ve not had to suffer the loss of a child through miscarriage.

And yet, the end of the possibility of my body nourishing another child was a major blow. Immediately, the largest change was that I had to immediately wean both of my boys. We’d been nursing for 4 years, the last two years as a tandem threesome. Nursing was literally inextricably intertwined with how I mothered my children and the adjustment was devastating. Since nursing was how both of my boys drifted off to sleep each and every night of their lives, bedtime was torturous as we adjusted to weaning and the fact that I had cancer all at once.

I think the devastation of learning I have a terminal diagnosis along with the devastation of weaning masked the sadness of learning that there wouldn’t be another child of my body who shared the traits of both my husband and I. Once some of the shock wore off, I was able to feel some of that loss.

Fertility, infertility and secondary infertility are becoming less of a taboo subject over time. Women are speaking up more and more about the toll these losses take and how silence about these losses only makes them worse. So much worse. I’m not sure we ever really get over these losses and having to hide how hard it can be is probably the worst way to handle it.

Being given a terminal diagnosis means that I’ve had to grieve the loss of so many things. Even things that I didn’t really even realize that I wanted. We have to continue talking about loss, talking about grief, talking about how dealing with these things can affect all of us. Only when we get things out in the open to be able to examine them, grieve them properly and then put the loss in the appropriate context can we move forward with the grief. No one truly moves past grief, it just becomes a part of us in a more manageable way.

For now, I will focus on the amazing gifts I’ve been given, EMBRACE the reality of the here and now, and offer support when I can to those who are still grieving. When women support other women, truly amazing things happen.

When People Pretend

Since I was diagnosed with Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer in mid-2017, there have been two people that I followed closely on social media who were “outed” as not actually having the level of illness they had claimed. I’m not going to use their names in this blog post because this is about me sorting through my feelings about what has happened, not what happened to them or what they did. I don’t want to give anyone who has behaved badly more attention; at the same time, it is important to understand how this sort of thing affects the entire community.

We’ll call the first person “J” and the second “K.”

The first time it happened, I was floored. Literally flabbergasted, horrified, and completely blindsided. I’d invested myself and my energy in following the journey of “J,” a woman who posted about having to get cancer treatment while she was pregnant, a pregnancy that would likely kill her because she had to forego levels of treatment to protect her as yet unborn daughter. J talked about her advocacy efforts and the blood transfusions that were keeping her alive. She’d posted about having blood drives and all of the bucket list activities she was completing. I stalked her like I don’t usually stalk people online because I was invested in her experiences and I was so afraid for her.

Then, around the time she should have been giving birth, when I literally prayed for her and her daughter daily, J’s profile disappeared. I honestly thought she must have died and tried to search for her obituary. I didn’t find any notification of her death, just articles and information about how she’d been found out. That J was lying about being pregnant, about having cancer, and that this was a pattern of behavior that had repeated itself multiple times, at least the part about pretending to be pregnant.

I was devastated.

It literally affected me to such a deep point that I was a bit concerned. How could I have gotten so attached to this stranger, this person I’d never met? How could the betrayal feel so personal? What was going on with me that led me to be so invested in her experiences and the outcome?

It’s hard to articulate how devastating that first experience was and it led me to pulling back a bit, to not investing as much in the metastatic community because it scared me. It scared me how much I was identifying with a person who turned out to be scamming people for money. I know that a big part of why I was so focused on J was the part of her experiences that affected her child. That resonated with me, it pulled me in, because it has been such a HUGE part of my struggle to reconcile my own cancer diagnosis with being a mom; with how having a terminal diagnosis affects my children.

Inevitably, I engaged again, I started following the experiences of others more closely, but I confess that I’m more skeptical now. When something feels off, I look a little closer, and I have tried to protect myself a bit more. I’m not sure I’ve succeeded much, but that first experience gave me a lot of pause. So much pause that I confess to interrogating or perhaps cross examining people when stories don’t add up. I do try to keep myself under control, but this is a MAJOR trigger for me now.

Recently, another woman was outed, we’ll call her “K.” I’ve been aware of the concerns about her for longer than J. I wasn’t as personally invested in K’s experiences or the details, but this time, I was privy to more information earlier. I spoke with various people who had been directly affected by K’s behavior and tried to provide some legal guidance as to what could be done. The information was gathered and notes were compared before anyone went public.

And then the internet exploded.

Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration because people outside of the metastatic cancer community may not be aware as much about the issues or the affect on so many people; however, the affect on the people within this community has been profound. The same way I felt when J was outed was how so many people in the metastatic community felt when K was outed and they were vocal and MAD about it.

You see, both of these women preyed on people who could not really afford to help them. People within the metastatic and larger cancer communities gave more than they really could afford. When it came out that the recipients of this generosity was not being honest, were pretending to be in dire straits medically or in other ways, the feeling of betrayal and outrage was practically leaping off the page.

Another difference between these two experiences was that J, while often complaining about how she was treated by people who clearly knew something was up, K often displayed overtly aggressive and bullying behavior. Being a strong, outspoken, and direct person, I’ve gotten complaints over the years in a similar vein. I do think that certain personality traits can be misinterpreted as being aggressive and female behavior is labeled and addressed differently than a man’s.

However, in this instance, I’m not talking about just being strong, I’m talking about going over the line, to be unkind and calling names and behavior that becomes more than a misunderstanding. This is an important distinction.

I don’t pretend to understand either J or K. I don’t understand their motives. Living with a terminal diagnosis is awful. It is hard, it is heartbreaking and it is isolating. To voluntarily pursue that experience is baffling. I suppose that there is an element of attention, if you want it. It’s just not something I’d want to get attention for if I had a choice.

At the end of the day, I know intellectually that hurt people hurt people. I am well aware intellectually that mental illness or unresolved trauma or unmet needs can lead people to do things that look inexplicable from the outside. I’m not a mental health person and I can’t pretend to understand the why behind the behavior.

What I do know is that you can’t just say J/K (a/k/a Just Kidding) about something like this.

No person can co-opt the experiences of others and pretend to be a part of a courageous and often desperate group of men and women without consequences. Perhaps the legal cases will go nowhere. Maybe GoFundMe won’t ever require that people prove that they have the medical conditions that provide the basis of requests for funds. Maybe on this earth, J and K won’t be held accountable.

What I do know is that there will be a reckoning, maybe in this life, maybe in the next.

I’m a big believer in karma; that what you put into the universe will come back to you; what you sow, you will reap. Even though I would like to personally give both of these women (and anyone else who pretends to have cancer) a choice piece of my mind along with some choice language that I don’t often use, pretending to be something they are not will, in the end, hurt them the most.

These women deserve our pity, not our vitriol. The greatest revenge, after all, is to live well; to move on as if these people have had no affect. That is how we show them, and others, that their efforts to disrupt the supportive community, the encouragement we give each other daily will not bear fruit. You see, those of us who genuinely care, who push past the point of pain to offer encouragement and support even while we carry our own burden, we aren’t pretending, about having cancer or anything else.

Nameste.