The Cancer Card: Membership has its perks!

I’m a cancer card carrying member of Club Cancer (pronounce it as the French would- con-sai-grrrgrgggch) Carry it whenever you leave the house and even while you’re at home. Flash it or repeat the infuriatingly confusing information on front of the card in blurry type, on the phone. Learn to use your card immediately upon diagnosis. At first you’ll try to use it everywhere they’re taken.

Or more likely, not taken. As time goes on and if you have a “good kind” of cancer or a non-stage four metastatic lifetime membership, you’ll find it’s fairly useless. Meaning, the longer you have it and the more attempts you make to use it the less it’s really worth to you.

Cancer cards are pretty much taken everywhere if properly applied for things like discounts and upgrades. They’re excellent for eliciting unsolicited advice. Your mail carrier might even bring you some medical marijuana if you live in a state where it’s legal, sometimes even where it’s not!

Don’t leave your card anywhere. No one can borrow it, either. If someone asks to borrow it, even as a joke, you’re free to immediately club said person with a baseball bat across the area where your cancer originated. This feels especially painful if those friends happen ask someone with brain or testicular cancer. It’s also especially satisfying.

If someone must take the card briefly to verify your membership, make sure you get that card right back. It’s value exists in your cautious use. NEVER overextend your credit of goodwill.

Don’t exit the infusion center without gathering it along with your hat or cap, your jacket or coat in winter, anti nausea medication and something hydrating might be nice, too.

Although it’s easy to see who’s the one with “a cancer,” we appear almost translucent. Invisible… for all anyone knows you’re so transparent you might not exist. Transparency is the secret of the cancer card, too. No one except those of us with cancer can see the card. Our names embellished with a machine that’s more like a tattoo gun, once you’ve gotten your card you can never give it back. Never cancel it. And it never expires until you expire. By expire, I mean die.*

*Caveat: If you’re not currently a member of club cancer your card can expire after 10 years. However, hold onto it because you’ve still got a roughly 40% chance you’ll need it again someday.

Your card comes equipped with your “bucket list” encoded into the chip on the front. As you tick off the fun and exciting adventures you consider must-do’s, the card deletes the information from the chip. No, these items come with a high cost. Of course nothing comes free, although you use the card while making a plane reservation for instance to get a free upgraded seat or for a better price for a direct flight. This assumes the person in customer care, erm…actually cares.

Sign your name in blood on the back of your cancer card otherwise it’s considered null and void. Remember without cancer or never having had cancer the card simply won’t exist. Remember it’s transparent as are you so no one will hear you or see you even if you’ve got any stage at any age. Chances are people won’t be,I’ve you have cancer because you just look so darned great!

Here’s a list of just a few things you can also try with your cancer card.

  • Advice on how to get rid of neuropathy
  • 1,001 uses for apple cider vinegar
  • 1,001 recipes with turmeric and cruciferous vegetables (notice crucifer rhymes with Lucifer?)
  • Book and then cancel all the vacations you ever wanted
  • Jump ahead in long queues
  • Immediate support group acceptance
  • Plush spaces in any physician’s waiting room
  • Nurses, nurses, nurses!
  • Free face masks and high alcohols hand sanitizer for life to protect you from Covid or other possible pandemic viral infections
  • Free fly fishing excursions
  • Shared rooms at reduced costs at cancer conferences
  • Free extra apple juice and graham crackers during IV chemotherapy infusions
  • Forced early retirement
  • Warmed blankets for those chilly scan rooms
  • Excused absences from large gatherings such as weddings and bar mitzvahs
  • A non-expiring excuse not to answer the phone
  • Asks for discounts on anything – without any degree of certainty you’ll receive a price reduction
  • Co-pay assistance from “charities” run by the very pharmaceutical companies that make the drugs only millionaires can afford (but even their money tree stops producing fruit after a while)
  • Grumpy days, sad days, angry days, sentimental days
  • Days talking out loud to your cat or dog
  • Days spent staring at the same content in your refrigerator wishing for everything to eat but not inside
  • That “look” from every receptionist with a heart
  • That other “look” from all the other receptionists on power trips

And last but not least you’re given a blank blog as a bonus. Of you missed it in the envelope with your first bill? Not to worry there’s plenty more where that came from.

10 Years Gone: How things change, yet how much they stay the same

I want to give you a small gift from my heart- it’s actually a re -gift but worthwhile to share as it is a letter written to the younger of my two stepsons. By his 10th birthday we’d shared three together as a family. I met their father a year after his divorce and met them six months after that. We’d decided that year to move in together and by then shared custody of the boys 50/50. My boys remain a part of my life – a miracle to which I’ll share some insight with you as to the dramatics you might’ve conjured from the connotation of this Christmas/ Hanukkah miracle.

Stepparents: Failure Representatives

Christmas hadn’t seen a tree with gifts underneath for each of them for many years. If I added any value to their lives at that point, it was lost on me. Stepparents, especially stepmothers, represent a failed family and a failed marriage to the children. A reminder what once was. I represented the collapse of their entire world. No need for discussion of fault, of who did what to whom. But unfortunately their mother suffers from borderline personality disorder and the kids a conduit to financial gain. My husband should get an award for fathering with a horrible wall of dollar bills between the well-being of his kids, and our relationship teetered in the balance for many years. He still suffers from depression and parental alienation syndrome.

I will survive

After reading every book on stepparent best practices, listening to every podcast, and seeing a family counselor, the redundancy of the high possibility of an end result sounded and felt much like applauding with dog shit in one hand. I didn’t want to hear or feel it again. The thunder of the shit storms echoed such like the screams you’d hear from one trying steer a leaking canoe with one paddle missing a stick on level five rapids. I’m not exaggerating. If you’re looking at marrying a partner who has kids and a mentally messed up ex, and you’re on the fence – get off the pole. I do not recommend it.

Yet I do have some wonderful memories – and a lot of canceled vacations, lies, deceit, broken plumbing, yelling, drama, crushed hearts, skinned knees and so on.

But for the most part I remember a lot of love, because that’s emblematic of what it takes to survive.

What are the odds?

It’s not as bleak an outcome as metastatic breast cancer which has a 100% chance of death. Second wives stand a 25% chance of success when children are involved versus a 50% chance when no children come to the party.

And as far as doing what’s right for the kids, setting boundaries didn’t stop any of the outrageous and cruel behavior, rewarded when they returned to their mom’s house greeted by their grilling of the time they spent with us. All activities, backed up by photos, audio and video recordings all the better, and as much money as possible either in the form of stolen or given. What made their time with us most nightmarish and would certainly break up your average couple, drew us closer in a United front and although she fleeced us for any penny, it forced us to find smooth conflict resolution between one another. In hindsight I don’t know how we still have a shared life – with the kids. The boys are 22 and 19 now. It’s a long way away from 14 years ago. Hair curling doesn’t come close to describing the situation. But here we are.

Part of the reason exists in the body of this letter. It’s the holidays and as a gift I’d thought I would share this with you. Craig said there’s a lot of wisdom in that letter. But it’s an outline of my own personal philosophy.

The Letter

And now why you’ve all come to read this post, the letter of 10 years ago to my then 10 year old stepson:

June 27th, 2011

Dear C,

10 years old – think about what the world was like back when you were born… One whole decade of your life makes up your history, and your future waits to unfold for you like a story in the decades still to come.

Can you imagine yourself another decade older? 20 years old, just 10 years from now. Thatʼs a huge leap from here if you think about how much youʼll do in the next 10 years. Think about what that might look like… lotʼs to learn, see, do, love, hate, win, lose….

Perhaps 10 years from now, youʼll be in college listening to some professor lecture on about math, and think of your dad. Heʼs a really special person. Heʼs someone you can always count on and who will always understand you. If everyone had a dad like yours… I believe that kids would grow up to be happy people and there would be more joy in the world and less anger. Look how happy you are hanging with dad and your brother. I can see the way you look when youʼre just being yourself and how much you like to smile. Your dad always smiles when he hears you laugh. I bet you didnʼt know that, did you?

So, when I was thinking about all this and decided to write to you this year because youʼre my very special friend and one of my favorite people in the whole world, I smiled too. I thought back to when I turned 10. I was still me. I still look like me.

When I thought really hard I wished somebody would have told me some things that might happen or just stuff in general that only experience can give a person. So, I thought Iʼd write those things down for you – and only you. If I had a good friend who cared about me when I was your age, this is what I would have wanted. Some of the things are just what I wish Iʼd done differently, some are things I am really glad I did, and some are things that have helped me get through some tough times:

    You are only as good as your word. You are born with it (itʼs the cry you make when you come out of your momʼs tummy) and you die with it (everyoneʼs got something to say before they die, and some even put it on their gravestone.) Thereʼs no clothing on your back when you come into the world and none when you leave it, but you scream at everyone when youʼre born and whisper when you exit. So, keep your word and the world will come back to you because youʼre a trusted soul.
    Travel.
    Do one thing REALLY well. Like skateboarding. Or playing guitar. Or even knitting. But practice and become an expert. I wish I had stuck with one thing long enough to be considered an “expert.” Hey, thereʼs still time.
    Treat others how you want to be treated, even if you donʼt think they deserve it.
    Go for long walks alone and think.
    Write in a journal or even on your iPad. Look back after some time and reflect on how you felt. Quite often, the things that made us mad or happy or sad a year or two ago, donʼt make use feel like that when we look back.
    Try everything within reason – I mean food, and sports, and walking around naked in the snow, or seeing how long you can go without taking a shower (oh, right you tried that last week 😉
    Tell people who you love how you feel. Affection helps everyone.
    Be sincere.
    Love what you do for a living. You must. Youʼll come to define yourself by what you do. So you better love it.
    Make peace with your brother. (I wish I did this – but you have to make peace with yourself first as to why youʼre angry with him. I wasnʼt angry at my brother, I was angry at my mom and my dad for messing up our family.)
    Hygiene matters and practice it whenever and where ever you get the opportunity because you never know what might keep you from getting that next shower or who you might meet walking down the street. And if you travel this is extra important. Ask me about Hurricane Wilma – I didnʼt get a shower for 10 days. Ew.
    Volunteer regularly. Giving to people in need will make you humble.
    Love yourself. Thatʼs the hardest thing to do. You may not know what I mean now, but you will. We do things in our life that we look back on and we donʼt like the people we were when we did them. But forgive yourself. Because when people donʼt forgive themselves they become ugly and bitter.
    Save your money but donʼt be stingy.
    Think about something good when you get up in the morning and it will take away any bad feelings that might ruin a perfectly good morning.
    Allow yourself to make mistakes.
    Allow yourself to be competitive. Victory dances are good in moderation.
    Learn to tell jokes.
    Donʼt be racist or sexist.
    And, last but not least, to yourself be true.

Happy birthday.

I love ya.

Ilene

Post Script to My Readers:

Nearly 10 years later, i wouldn’t change anything about it.

Peace on earth.

Good will towards every living thing.

May we heal from this plague and may we find ourselves released us all like doves into a clear blue sky, free from the shackles of fear and uncertainty, isolation and illness.

May the coming week bring you love.

I love you very much.

You my friends, my readers new and long term, my support sisters and brothers. And a sad goodbye to some very beautiful women who did not deserve die nor to leave their families behind, who will mourn them forever.

Every 74 seconds a woman dies from MBC. Fuck cancer. Fuck whomever tells my kids I don’t have cancer and you know who you are and if you’re reading this I don’t actually give two shits or a handful of dog shit either. You can’t make my life miserable so quit making your kids miserable instead. With NPD borderliners it takes nothing to lie about anyone to get more out of their sources using flying monkeys in the form of kids they birth from their golden uteruses don’t even love. They’ve no capacity and my mom had a slight case of NPD so I know of what I speak first hand and lots of therapy later.

And I want to say to every one of my followers, friends and my family thank you for your support without which I’d be a statistic.

Quote

Taping Our Gifts

For Brian Legeose https://brianlageose.blog

Gluing ourselves together for the
Loves of our lives
Out of obligation I’m exposed – borne from those
Deep cracks. We open wide, wider than a canyon
Engulfing everything that walks by
It never saw us there
A gaping hole ready
To swallow
Them whole.
Didn’t they understand
Not looking around we might take them
To a watery grave below?
There’s not enough tape
To repair all our openings
And spaces left in the paper:
Leave clues of what we are
We are gifts
All of us
Flaws and all
Ready to find a mason
To build a brick wall
Prevention for the disease
Passed along when we
Hand out our presents
To the unknowing
Few.