A diagnosis should not come with a side of shame.
Arguably the most shameful of cancers on the list of organs and appendages is lung cancer.
“Was he/she a smoker?” they ask upon hearing the desperate news. The answer dependant on whether it was just pure bad luck or just desserts.
A reader recently told me of her husband who was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer of the lung having never had a cigarette in his life. Another girlfriend who is a GP, had to break the news to a friend who came into her practice with a cough from what she thought was a cold she couldn’t shake; a mother of young children, a non smoker, just bloody unlucky.
I was horrified. “That’s so unfair. I don’t understand how that happens? It’s just so unfair”.
When my father-in-law was diagnosed it somehow made more sense, while he hadn’t had a cigarette in 15 years, I knew he was once a regular smoker. The cigarettes the culprit, a ‘reason’. That’s the thing with cancer, people want a reason. They need it to make sense.
Breast cancer of course is a far more optimistic and blameless cancer. In a sea of pink ribbons we are surrounded by words of support. With my own diagnosis, I was handed a booklet, immediately signed up to a network and sent information on how to connect with others. I have joined a club. Everyone it seems now knows someone who has had breast cancer. The champions and ambassadors are celebrities we can identify with. Mothers, sisters, daughters. There are great tragedies, heroic survivorship.
When I was told of my diagnosis my first question to the surgeon was based around sugar. I’d watched and read the latest spate of evil sugar movies. I’d purchased Sarah Wilson’s “I Quit Sugar”. My children and I watched “That Sugar Film” together.
“Should I stop eating or drinking anything with sugar? I’ve read that cancer feeds off sugar? Do you think sugar is a cause?”