My phone call to Cancer’s customer service

A transcript of my imaginary phone call to The Cancer Store’s unhelpful desk. While the veracity of these two seemingly innocent characters is dubious, the names are changed to protect their identities, so by reading any farther, you waive your rights to any legal action should they bear any resemblance to anything or anyone living (or dead.)

Cut into conversation in progress between an agent the Cancer Store (CS) and dissatisfied client (Me):

Me: No, I ABSOLUTELY HATE having metastatic breast cancer. (Blows nose, whimpering)

CS: Mmmm hmmm. (Background sound: filing fingernails)

Me: Can I return it, please?

CS: Our product works very well, right? (Smug, mocking)

Me: This product works exactly as it should, yes indeed, too well. Although, I really hate the overall ownership experience. (Getting tense)
CS:(silent)
Me: Where do I send it back?
CS:(silent)
Me: Hey look, I don’t appreciate your attitude. Ridiculous! The total cost of ownership adds up to an exorbitant amount of money. I can’t see the value in a million plus dollars a year to treat it. And it never shuts up. Keeps me up all night, doesn’t let me hold a full time job…and it’s wrong, all wrong. I want my life back not stupid Cancer!
CS: (Yawns audibly, sniffs) Yep. Umm hmm.
Me: Well, I can’t afford it and it really just doesn’t fit me at all. So I’m sending it back.
CS: Did you receive our free sample and try it? (several people giggling call now on speakerphone)
Me: Yes, but I swear I never asked for it. (Begin tears)
CS: Ma’am for the last time, it IS all your fault. Of course you deserve it. Don’t you remember the time you stole Barbie clothes on Easter from a drugstore open on Easter when you were nine years old? (Uproarious laughter from crowd of people on speakerphone)
Me: Is that when I picked it up? I would think…
CS: Really? You would think? (Sarcastically sounding like the Charmin Toilet Paper man)
Me: Look! I learned my lesson and that was over 40 years ago! I was a child. This doesn’t seem fair. The cancer I got just keeps growing, and somehow no one could even detected it for years. Now, it runs off and hides from treatment. I would never order a generic anyway…I would ask for it by name brand, not just generic C A N C E R. (Spells out Cancer, desperation in voice)
CS: Oh dear, you have the wrong department, I need to put you on an eternal hold in which you will hear only dead silence. What stage did you purchase, ma’am?
Me: Stage 4, well I didn’t purchase anything at ALL! That’s the reason why I called your so-called service department in the first place. (Sounding triumphant)
CS: The number 4? As in metastatic cancer? I only show “lobular breast cancer” on our order form, miss. You may have to speak with a supervisor. Please sit silently on hold for the rest of your life.
Me: Wait! WAIT!!! What did you say? Wrong department or you’re getting your supervisor? Hey!
CS: Both. Oh, wait before I put you on hold, would you mind taking a survey to help us improve our service? And we are running a special on chemotherapy from the creators of your cancer epidemic! We’d be thrilled to help you with your treatments in a lifetime contract service plan. Don’t worry we kill 113 people from Metastatic Breast Cancer every single day!
Me: You have got to be kidding me!
(Clicking noise followed by dead air, Cancer customer puts phone on speaker phone but cannot hang up… fast forward to surreal scene of a bedroom 50 years in the future to the skeletal remains and hair on the floor of my former physical self, as the new demolition boats come to tear down the now oceanfront house, in San Jose, California.)
The End

Ilene

Female. East coast transplant living in the Bay Area of California. Living with Stage IV breast cancer. Married to the coolest guy in the universe who occasionally suffers from serious depression. Love my stepsons, although I never thought I'd have that thankless job - ever! And my best friend Simon is also my cat. How I have survived with stage IV: treatments including chemo and surgery; palliative oncology; tenacity; a dark sense of humor; support groups; and my newly reinvented career as a vintage and antiques maven. Some days I miss the old me who led a well respected and well paid life as a business strategist in high tech. So much for that. I blog to simply share my experiences and my poetic approach with others who have cancer of any kind or with their care givers and those who love them. If one person at the very least finds a little commonality or a friend out in the ether tor a smile, a common nod about this experience, or even a link to assistance, then I have accomplished a small but extraordinarily meaningful goal. Go team.

4 thoughts on “My phone call to Cancer’s customer service

  1. Your ability to write words that convey the utter raw devastation that cancer brings and its’ far reaching consequences that reaches into the dark recesses of the “unspoken” of those who read them. I can only reach out to you spiritually so that in the ethereal world you are not alone.

    1. I’m grateful for your kindness in responding. I’m blessed with a voice and with words to set to the music I cannot write but the minor ability to know how to put a sentence together on occasion. It encourages me to know that people can read my blog and I can benefit from the grace of those gentle spirits who choose to help me on my journey here. Thank you.

  2. I was just admiring your sensitivity to your wife and how rare a breed you are in a world where women with cancer are isolated by family and friends and deserted by husbands. You’re an excellent writer – consider a book. Not enough men to help other men through their partners’ cancer experiences and how it effects the men, their marriages, and their extended feelings and dealings.

  3. Wow, there is something about your writing and the ability to put one letter after the other to convey the thoughts behind it all. This is a great piece of writing.

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