Celebrity Cancer Isn’t the Only Kind of Cancer

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Yesterday I wrote a bit about how my bout with cancer hadn’t produced any life lessons for me. But millions of other people have been diagnosed with cancer too, and every one of them has a story of their own. So why bother sharing mine? This is why:

Given the tsunami of celebrities telling us their stories about how cancer profoundly affected them, there might be a lot of people who feel like there’s something wrong with them for not having a profound reaction of their own. But there isn’t, and it might help to hear that plenty of other people feel the same way.

On a similar note, a few days ago I talked to a friend who was recently diagnosed with lymphoma. He told all his friends and coworkers about it, and everyone was duly sympathetic and supportive. But then, when all the tests had finally been completed, it turned out to be a very low-grade cancer that posed no immediate danger. After all this fuss, he had to go back and tell everyone that it wasn’t a big deal. There would be no chemo, no battle, and no further tests. Just a blood draw every few months to monitor things. He says he felt kind of guilty about the whole thing. I wonder how many other people have felt that way?

Everybody responds differently to this stuff. There’s nothing wrong with you if your response doesn’t follow the Hollywood script and you don’t feel like turning the world pink every October. Chances are, lots of people feel the same way. But you’ll only know it if all those other people open up and say so.

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