The C-Word

Have you ever heard of the Cancer Card?

Neither had I. That is, until I got cancer.

“The C-Card” as some folks lovingly call it, is a card you can “play” with other people to have things go your way. Don’t feel like babysitting? “Sorry, I have cancer, I can’t do that.”

Want an extension on paying something? “Sorry, I was in the hospital. I have cancer.”

Throw the C-Word around and people will feel so bad for you that they’ll do what they can to help. Well, so I hear. I’ve only played my C-Card once. It worked, but it made me feel kinda icky after. I’m only six weeks in though, I still have lots of practicing to do ;)

With all that said however, I find that I do use the Cancer Card frequently on myself. We all know that we are our own worst critics, and reminding myself that I have cancer has so far been the best way to cut myself some slack!

So on this Monday, I want to share my C-Card status. A free pass to all you non-cancer folk. Give it a swipe, cut yourself a break, and enjoy doing something selfishly for you today. A person’s health and well-being is important after all, cancer or no cancer.

So far, the best use of my C-Card is getting out of doing chores. The fatigue from chemo hits pretty hard sometimes and I like to reserve my energy for doing things like, um, feeding and washing myself. No guilt about not hanging up my clothes. Cancer patients should get a free pass for messy bedrooms!

I love to cook and bake, but usually on my own terms. Meaning, I get stressed when I have to prepare a large meal for other people, or when I’m too hungry to slave over a stove for an hour.

When I start to feel guilty about letting others make food for me when I’m the one who supposedly loves to cook, I have to give a swipe of the C-Card. It’s okay to eat pita bread and hummus for dinner, I might throw it up later anyways, I have cancer dontcha know.

There’s of course the personal trainer in me who thinks I should be doing strength training, cardio, and yoga every day. This has definitely been the best use of the Cancer Card yet. I can’t go for a run dude. I’ve got cancer around my heart. A gentle stroll and stretching instead? Don’t mind if I do.

The C-Card also makes me feel better about ditching on social situations that don’t appeal to me. I’m not a huge fan of clubs and busy bars, and thanks to my weakened immune system, I can’t go to them anymore! Swipe. How about a quiet place for brunch and coffee instead? Swipe swipe.

As much as I yak about trying to look good to keep my self-esteem up, sometimes a girl just wants to wear fluffy socks with her loafers. Function over fashion, especially when The Big C is involved.

And why yes, I did spend the evening lying in a hammock. The C-Card provides unlimited hammock access.

So tell me, how will you use your free pass today? Use your status wisely!

Posted on August 8, 2011, in Cancer. Bookmark the permalink. 50 Comments.

  1. You have to tell me what kind of dog you have. We might be in the market. And actually you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to. You can just play the C card :)

  2. I use the student card often (okay not literally) – mostly when there’s a social situation that I couldn’t fathom spending my teensy tiny entertainment budget on :P

    • Haha, “I’m a broke student” and “I have to study” are two other great excuses :)

      • I love to use the “I’m a broke student” card. Also the “I’m not feeling well” card, especially for ditching social situations that don’t appeal to me! It’s kind of sad that we feel the need to justify why we are unable to do something or why we just don’t feel like doing something. I think a lot of the time we (or at least I) do it because we think people are going to judge us for it, but in reality, I bet people are much less judgemental than we might anticipate..

        This is a great post, Susan. :) I think you should definitely continue to use the cancer card if it helps to relieve some unnecessary guilt!

  3. In a country with fierce winters such as ours, we should all get unlimited hammock passes during the summer :)

  4. I don’t use the c-card, but I have been using the bride card. Grumpiness, stress, money. You name it, I’m using it. Pms is no longer pms., it’s just me being a loony bride.

    P.S love that hamack and ur dog. Looks like a lovely place to relax. Way better then some bar.

  5. I use the “I really have to study for an exam” card when I feel like being completely reclusive and when I can’t fathom the idea of spending an extended period of time with a certain person. Great post by the way, I love your humor!

  6. Susan, you are so brave and have a great view on life. I know you will get through this and put it behind you. I think you deserve to use your “card” when you feel like it, why not? I have a headache often works for me!

  7. Well, I didn’t do this because you have cancer, I did it because I liked your post on blog writing. I have a quote of yours and a link to you in my guest post here:
    Also, your dog looks like a twin of mine! Is it a cock-a-poo? Mine supposedly has a double dose of poodle, so when she gets groomed, she looks more like a poodle. Actually it’s more like a young deer with long, thin legs and pointed nose. I never quite recognize her with short hair. With long hair, looks more adorable, like yours. Love that they don’t shed and don’t make people sneeze.

  8. There’s also a migraine card that comes in handy.

  9. I love this:-) And being only 6-weeks in, you will undoubtedly find even more ways to use our status. For example: It will get you out of a speeding ticket…especially when you whip off your wig and throw it in the backseat as the patrolman is walking up to your car after he pulls you over;-) AND-we were on our way to my daily radiation appointment at that! True story.

    Thinking of you!!

  10. You are utterly delightful. And good for you for taking care of yourself and choosing what you WANT rather than what you SHOULD….about anything. Another lesson for a young gal who is being baptized by fire far too soon! We shouldn’t have to pull any card to live and act in ways true to our selves, but we do.

    You need to take it extra easy today, and perhaps make and eat some peanut butter marshmallow squares to eat – after all…you have C_______ ! They’ll give you strength! :)

  11. My cancer card comes into play most when it comes to the house – we hired someone to clean every 2 weeks while I’m going through chemo. And this morning she’s coming and I’m going to let her do a load of laundry or two and wash dishes while I go have bloodwork drawn and grocery shop (something I haven’t done in months). I usually feel bad that she’s coming and do everything possible to make it easy on her and just leave her the basics, but today she’s got pretty much all of it. :)

  12. I learned about the C Card from my cousin, who is 33 and has been battling cancer for four years. She has two young children and uses the c card all the time — in the best way possible. She no longer puts off finishing their scrapbooks or taking one too many vacations a year. Her motto is Celebrate Everything, and we all have t-shirts that say it now. It’s a two-word phrase that we’ve all taken to heart since her diagnosis.

    We also have a really huge family with lots of in-fighting and she’s sort of become the family peacemaker. Whenever people start to argue over petty things, she just says, “I have cancer. Can you guys please just get along?” … and it works! People try harder because they know how much it hurts her for everyone to argue. And she doesn’t worry about pushing them too hard because, as she recently told me, “They won’t yell at me. I have cancer.”

    Glad to hear you too have a similar outlook. A sense of humor about it all will help you try to make some sense of this new world of yours. Keep smiling!

  13. My Mum once used hers to upgrade her crappy arena seats for the front row at a Michael Buble concert, and we totally got one of those blue badges for the car so we could nab the good parking spots everywhere. Was fun for a while!

    I’d use mine for unlimited cuddles… maybe with a side of fro-yo.

  14. I have a T-card- for tired :-) New kittens will do that. I’m glad you are using your C-card wisely and often.

  15. Your sense of balance and doing what is best for you makes pulling the c-card worth it. I use the tired or sick card so why can’t you use the cancer card when you need.

    Keep caring for you!

  16. You are a GREAT outlook towards life, but I am sure you have heard that a million times already and probably already know that. And I think it is fair enough that you (and others) use their C-Card … use it as often as you like … everything is supposed to have a silver lining … even it is a tini-weenee-one!!!

    I am using my free pass to gorge down a few extra slices of the cranberry bread well ‘coz it is Monday and we all need something extra to get through them!!!

    ♡ from ©

  17. I have had to pull the mono card a time or two! Don’t feel guilty! Getting well is a major undertaking so you need all the rest you can handle! :)

    I love the posts about your cottage weekends! It looks like a delightful place to be!

  18. I use the “nursing mother” card often. Sorry, can’t stick around for anymore Ab work, gotta go nurse. Sorry, can’t go drink…don’t you know it goes right through the milk?!? And when my babies are REALLY young, I use it to get out of ultra-hard cardio….too much lactic acid for baby. :)

  19. I don’t have cards. I have no excuses and no guilt. I’m just “lazy” if I don’t do things, and I really don’t mind that title.

  20. I want to lie in a hammock. I have been telling myself for years that when I own a house, I’m buying a hammock first. It looks fabulous.

    I’ve been in and out of doctors all week so I used my card to get my husband to make me breakfast. It was delicious!

  21. I use my G card, It works well in many different situations for instance, after I say something insensitive I whip out the G-card or more likely my wife will do it for me “please forgive his insensitivity…he’s a guy”

  22. Ah this made me smile. :) It is so true though. When my dad had cancer we were all bending over backwards for him! (Even tho it was not life-threatening.)

  23. You are totally brave and strong; a modern day superhero.

  24. greensandjeans

    I’m totally using my “bad travel” card today. I didn’t get home until after 4am so I’ve spent most of my day in bed with my laptop watching crappy tv.

  25. the unimited hammock usage should sure everything, right? I think this c-card is about being smart, not making excuses.
    Youre using it wisely!

  26. Nothing wrong with fluffy socks and swinging in a hammock – “c” word or not. :D

  27. Love the honesty & I say go for that C card whenever you need to! :-) Does that cute dog understand that something is “off” with you, meaning do animals really sense this.

    Keep on doing what is right foyouyu!

    • Yes, I think he totally senses it!! My dad’s cat does too. The cat is usually pretty aloof but for some reason ALWAYS on me. We think Archie the poodle actually has lymphoma too – he’s got lumps, but is 14.5 years old.

  28. I used the c-card last week, and my husband said, “You can’t be playing that card already!” I told him that I am only going to have cancer for one month, so I have to take advantage of it.

    But truthfully, I am the luckiest person alive to only have cancer for one month.

  29. You serioulsy have the BEST attitude ever! When my dad had cancer in the ’90s his oncologist told him attitude was 90% of the battle. Dad took that to heart and always kept an upbeat attitude – I’m convinced that’s the reason he survived and thrived. Rock on lady!

  30. I know no one wishes for a C-Card, but if you happen to have access to one it does come in very handy. I used mine almost 3 years ago to get out of grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, doing the laundry, etc. and even though I am in remission, my husband is still doing most of those tasks! Why stop him now! I only used the C-card on my husband, except once, when I was shopping with my daughter at The GAP Outlet on the Friday after Thanksgiving (biggest shopping day of the year in the US). The line to use the dressing room was almost out the door of the store. My daughter told the store attendant that her mother had cancer and we were both immediately moved into the next fitting room! So, cancer does have its perks. When I was bald, my husband said he liked it because I was never late, no need to do my hair, shave my legs, pluck my eye brows, etc. Just pull on a wig and you’re
    to go. I always weanted to be a red head, so I bought a red wig. People used to compliment me on my hair cut and color and ask me where I got my hair done. They never did that when it was my own hair! Just a few things to look forward to, or not. Keep your chin up, you’re doing great!

  31. Ha, ha…I’ve got a whole deck of these (:

  32. I use my immobility card, when I want to go somewhere and my joints don’t. “Maybe Attending” is my favourite button, because hey, I never quite know if i’ll be able to pull it off. If I can, I’ll do my best to be there. If I can’t, people have to understand. And if they can’t, then….the hell with them! :)

    Just do what you can do, nothing less, and nothing more :)

  33. this made me LOL! I definitely used the cancer card to my advantage this past year. Anything from avoiding paying student loans to eating ice cream for dinner. The cancer card is awesome and anyone that gets stuck with cancer deserves to swipe it ;)

  34. HILARIOUS. I need one of those cards–mainly for the messy room thing and the getting out of social functions that aren’t appealing.

    “I might throw it up later anyways, I have cancer dontcha know.” I choked on my grape.

    I love you, Susan! I had a lot of catching up to do and I am glad you are soaking up the sun, relaxing and spending time with fam.

  35. Oh Susan,
    How I wish I was there for some hammock time with you. I’ll bring my fluffy socks, and we can go on walks and laugh and then come home for a good stretch. I’d also be more than happy to fold and put away all your clothes…as long as you share your pita and hummus with me. :)

  36. This made me giggle a couple of times. I’m constantly telling people to focus some attention on themselves, but I rarely do.

    My “C-card” would be used to get me out of washing dishes.

    I’m on food blog #4 (and I’m trying to do it right this time!) so I spend all of my free time cooking and making a general mess in my kitchen. Having someone to do the dishes would be AWESOME!

    Enjoy taking time for yourself to heal. Someday, you’ll be back to doing everything again, but THIS lesson should stick with you – do things you enjoy and take time to laze in the hammock all day long. Because, darn it, someday you’ll wish you had!!

  37. I have a hammock in my back yard which I spend a great deal of time in reading. It is so peaceful and I love it. Enjoy the hammock and don’t feel you need to use the C-card to relax.

  38. You have an amazing attitude, your posts never fail to make me think or smile or sometimes cry.
    The C-card is an interesting concept, people often use a number of excuses to get out of things but for once I actually think you should use it whenever and wherever you like!
    Thank you for reminding me that it is alway possible to see things from a different perspective :-)

  39. I found your blog through my sister Melissa. I had breast cancer four years ago and how well I remember the ‘cancer card’. I was very guilty of using it for myself to cut myself some slack and while it was hard for me to use to get myself out of something with other people, I completely think that others (i.e. you and my sister both, or anyone for that matter!) should definitely pull it out and use it more often. When I meet others diagnosed with cancer, I am the first to encourage them to put themselves first, to cut themselves some slack and use that cancer card (within reason of course! LOL). Best of luck to you, it is not easy.

  40. I’ve been using the “my parents have cancer” card to deal with other peoples bullsh*t. Sounds terrible but I can’t deal with other peoples problems right now, I’m busy dealing with my family’s problems. NBD!

    But just so you know, I had cancer when I was 3 (Acute Lymphotic Leukemia), and I will be celebrating 18 years cancer free September 14. Cancer sucks, but you will get better, and someday you’ll celebrate your cancer free anniversaries too.


  1. Pingback: Things I Learned The Month I Slowed Down « The Great Balancing Act

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