On World Cancer Day, This Book Title Speaks For All of Us: F*ck Off Cancer

Today, February 4, 2016 is World Cancer Day. “Taking place under the tagline ‘We can. I can.’, World Cancer Day 2016-2018 will explore how everyone – as a collective or as individuals – can do their part to reduce the global burden of cancer.”

Linda Brossi Murphy faced breast cancer with a heaping dose of humor and bravely shares her cancer experience in her book F*CK OFF CANCER: Cancer, shaken, not stirred, on the rocks with a twist! to benefit those who may follow in her footsteps. Those who have previously walked in her footsteps will also gain some degree of comfort, validation, and sisterhood as they read this book. As Linda pointed out: “The good news about this is that I was not alone. The bad news is that everyone’s life is touched by cancer.”

Truer words were never spoken, as every person I know has a relationship with cancer. There are, it seems, many paths to health. Linda chose to follow conventional treatment: surgery (two lumpectomies) followed by chemotherapy and radiation. She also chose to participate in a clinical trial, not knowing whether she was receiving the actual drug or a placebo in addition to the protocol outlined by her oncologist.

f-off cancerWe’re all lucky that Linda followed a friend’s advice to write this book. Linda tells it like it is, leaving very little to the imagination (yes, her book includes photos to document her journey) as she graciously told her story of life with cancer. This story will help assess cancer treatment by studying how the treatment affected every facet of Linda’s life. Yes, we can call this anecdotal data and dismiss its value. OR we can give this type of data a little more respect and call it a case study. It is, after all, each individual’s experience that lets us know how our science (treatment protocol) actually plays out. Linda’s observation about chemotherapy illustrates the toll her treatment took on body, mind, and spirit:

Someday, in the future, chemotherapy will be looked at the same way we currently look at electric shock therapy. Barbaric! As we progress in understanding cancer and finding treatments, it will eventually be looked back upon as ludicrous that we sat people down and pumped them full of a broad-spectrum poison.

There simply must be a better way to treat cancer. Linda endured more than a year and a half of treatment, at one point joking: “I am fat, bald, toenail-less, burned from radiation, and scarred. How lovely!” So how the heck did this wild woman get through her treatment with her sense of humor fully in tact? With a little help from her friends, of course! She had a support team that included a vast group of family and friends. Each chemo treatment found a collection of supporters in Linda’s chemo room laughing, joking, and sometimes cajoling the hours away. This party atmosphere did not mean that Linda didn’t appreciate the serious nature of cancer. On the contrary, this was just one way Linda chose to tell cancer to f*ck off.

Linda also focused on her medical team: To show the members of her medical team how much she appreciated their treatment, Linda asked her support team to bake cookies for her medical team rather than to bring meals to her and her family. Not just once and done; she had a calendar and her support team signed up to bake cookies and make sure they got them to Linda ahead to time so she could deliver them prior to her treatment. She also threw an end-of-treatment party to thank everyone – friends, family, medical personnel – who had helped her through her treatment.

This book is a generous gift from a cancer conqueror to anyone who wants to know what it’s like to walk through the world of cancer treatment. There are laughs and tears along the way as you’d expect. Not surprisingly, there are also poignant moments when Linda and her husband faced mortality head on.  Little was easy; much was overwhelming. Each day also presented a new adventure, an opportunity to look at the world from a new vantage point. While making her way through a world of overwhelm, Linda chose to find a way to laugh every day as she walked through the halls of cancer treatment.

As we observe World Cancer Day in 2016, we owe it to Linda and everyone else who has faced a cancer diagnosis to:

  • Acknowledge that after 40 years of fighting a war on cancer, we need to change up our approach.
  • Stop expecting a different outcome without changing our behavior (treatment / research).
  • Provide support to cancer patients, rather than the cancer industry.
  • Focus on prevention. Prevention ≠ screening / detection.
  • Explore evidence-based complementary care.
  • Read this book and others like it to understand how cancer treatment affects the patient.

All eyes are on Vice President Biden’s moonshot. I applaud his and President Obama’s enthusiasm. We’ve also got answers right here on Earth that are waiting to be put into practice. What do you say? I say now would be the time.

About Deb

Deb Nelson, principal of deb nelson consulting, is a creative storyteller. She designs and implements communication plans that leverage strategic partnerships and provide innovative solutions for her clients. You can find her on twitter at @nelliedeb.

Comments

  1. I think you know where I stand on this and all health issues, Deb. I would follow any path that isn’t conventional and ask as many questions as necessary to make informed decisions about next steps. Observing how people choose, I still see many people trusting their doctors, more than they trust themselves.

    I can’t imagine what “fighting” cancer is like following a traditional medical model, and yet as you’ve shared, the people who go through it and come out the other side, have much to share and shed a lot of light on the current system and model of treatment. I love the quote you shared from Linda’s book and my hope is that the someday she talks about, is closer than we think. With so much research money being spent, one wonders who does, or doesn’t, want to see cancer as no longer a health threat. It seems the size of the industry almost precludes it being a disease of the past anytime soon. There are so many alternative choices now and so many options that like you, I only hope people do not passively opt for the conventional choice and dare to explore other options for themselves.
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    • I love Linda’s quote, too – I’ve got to believe, Beverley, that the more people who talk about the barbaric treatment, the more others will take a pause and look at how we treat cancer – cut, poison, burn – and question whether that’s the best approach. Curiosity and questions lead to discussion, which I am hopeful will lead to new treatment.

  2. So sorry I missed World Cancer Day. It was not blasted over Fcebook or Twitter. Does that suggest we are blase about it or tired of hearing the same answers.? I like to think most are fed up with treatment options & are ready for alternative care, prevention & real solutions.

    • It seems this is a pivotal time, Roz, when people are a bit fed up with unsuccessful treatment – treatment that has significant side effects contributing to early death. Let’s keep sharing info to bring about new approaches!!

  3. Hi Deb 🙂
    I really enjoyed your post! Yes I totally agree we definately need to rethink our approach to cancer treatments 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
    Joan M Harrington recently posted..How To Increase Your Conversions Using Social ProofMy Profile

    • Thanks Joan – yes, it’s time to rethink approach and pay attention to what’s worked and what hasn’t worked. We’ve all seen that drugs don’t always work the way we’d expect them to; given a chance, the body can heal a lot of illnesses.

  4. Yes, totally agree – barbaric. We treat cancer with mustard gas, the same poison used to kill the opponents in world wars. Crazy. I hope the someday she talks about is soon…
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  5. Wow!!!! Linda is amazing! I watched both of my grandfather’s lose the battler to cancer but they fought hard and kept positive attitude throughout their battles. They taught me the importance of counting my blessings and yes F*** cancer! I’ll have to add this book to my reading list.
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  6. Thank you for mentioning this book, Deb. My best friend is fighting it….for the second time, and she has had similar experiences, which I truly think should be changed! Cancer sucks, and so does policy. I’m glad not only is your friend speaking out through her book, but you and others are speaking out by your support. Yay!
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  7. Sorry, I missed World Cancer Day. I did, however, hear the excerpts of Vice President Biden’s speech. I agree that everyone has been touched by cancer and there has to be something that can stop this disease from impacting people. I had at least 3 friends recently who had to endure the process. Hopefully, there will be a cure soon. Thanks for sharing.
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