I refuse to #f*ckcancer
Don’t get me wrong childhood cancer sucks an untold hell but I refuse to #f*ckcancer and here’s why.
#f*ckcancer is what I so often seen used when someone doesn’t know what to say. It’s well intentioned but it doesn’t help, and sometimes when a person is truly suffering at the hands of cancer it can feel like a dismissal.
F*ck you is the last retort
F*ck you is what you say when you have no come back, are powerless, paralysed, spent and can’t think of a f*cking single solution, just angry reply. F*ck you is what you throw away when you’re done. When you’re throwing your hands up in surrender.
Cancer can f*ck me.
I refuse to rest, I refuse to throw my hands up at him and give in. I will rage at him and every single time that f*cker throws me and mine to the ground I will get up, wipe away my tears, dust myself off and do something because surrender to this f*cker is not an option.
There is always something that you can do without throwing your hands and a hashtag in the air. Some ideas cost money, some ideas cost time, all of the ideas cost effort and require you to show up.
Below are two support structures: Support the child, support the family
Support the Child
When a child or teen with cancer is isolated at home or in hospital they are not necessarily (quite often not) isolated from visitors who are well. ASK if it’s OK to visit a sick child and actually do it as often as you can.
Sometimes the look of a child undergoing cancer treatment can be confronting. Rather than protecting yourself or your child from being uncomfortable seeing a friend sick try to approach the visit as a way to teach yourself or your child about difficulty and how to support that. Teach yourself or your child that being brave isn’t about NOT being afraid or challenged or uncomfortable; being brave is feeling all of those things and doing it anyway.
If you feel awkward visiting here are some ideas:
Make something ‘your thing’.
colouring or craft with a child
tutor a teen in maths or science or something else you’re clever at
Read Harry Potter every time you’re there.
Watch a movie with them.
If you have a thing that is ‘your thing’ it makes visiting a delight for both you and the child.
If a child or teen with cancer is too sick for visitors, Facetime, send them texts and videos. STAY IN TOUCH. Social isolation as hard for some kids than some of their treatments.
Support for the Family
Visit. Show up. Physically be in the room as often as you can. Text and phone calls are nice but if you’re not too far away to show up, then please do – be in the room. It can be long visit or a quick chat at the front door and a ‘Can’t stay but wanted to drop in super quick and see your face and give you this coffee / chocolate/ wine / salad / hug.
Ninja help – mow a lawn, wash a car, do some laundry, clean the kitchen, pay a bill – Figure out how you want to help and just do it without too much fanfare or expectation of a thank you – the brain of a parent with a sick child is an addled, often forgetful one. At times it can be hard for us to think further than the feelings of our immediate family. It will be appreciated, it will feel like a small weight has been lifted even if it’s not acknowledged.
Make a standing promise to pick up and drop off their well children to school / extra-curricular activities every week on the same day so they can take that day off their worry list.
Say hello to their well children EVERY time you see them with a big smile so that child feels seen. Cancer can be a pretty overbearing sibling and often treatment is as hard on the well child as the sick one. You don’t have to ask how their brother or sister is each time you see them – make your hello about them.
Be patient – it takes time for a newly diagnosed family to find their way back to a workable version of normal, there’s a lot of anger and grief and pain to get past before we can have a workable friendship again.
Classics – cook meals, prepacked school lunches, bring wine, and bring chocolate.
The moral of my soap box
The moral is that clicking like and share and compassionate comments collectively do provide support. They’re important for awareness and to cut through our isolation; we do need them and we do thank you. Did you feel there was a but coming?
If you want to do good deeds and make a significant difference in the life of a child with cancer it will take more time and effort than a hashtag and quite likely some confronting moments if you’re directly supporting a child or family.
The reward will be the opening of your life to great meaning and beauty. Standing aside a family fighting for a life in even in just the smallest way can make the most remarkable difference to both of your lives.