Wednesday, December 2, 2009

So She Wants to Have Cancer

One of my Twitter friends suggested I read a blog ( and
respond to a comment made by a respondee named Heather. My friend was upset and wanted my reaction.

I read Heather's comments days ago and I'm still fuming. Furthermore,
I read the blogger's reaction to the response I left and found intense
ignorance and flippancy that still makes me grind my teeth.
Heather, the respondee, and Kelly, the blogger who writes RAwarrior,
were trying to tell people how miserable their existences are because
they have Rheumatoid Arthritis. They emphasized that having a terminal
disease would be a better alternative to having essentially a life
sentence of intense pain. They suggested bone cancer as a "nice"

I feel steam escaping my ears! I am furious.

When I was eleven years old, I got very sick, running a high fever for
many days--scarlet fever. Eventually the fever left, but my perfect
eleven year old joints had changed. I was left with rheumatoid
arthritis (RA) and a childhood in which I struggled through
increasingly painful joints as the RA deteriorated many of them. My
ability to do many of the things I wanted to do lessened with time. My
life direction was rerouted when, at seventeen, my dream of joining
the US Navy ended with knees so destroyed that surgery was required on
one to clean out bone fragments just so I could partially bend it.
When my friends went to Grad Nite after high school and onto
recruiting offices, I went into Orthopedic Hospital for what was then
experimental surgery. I spent the next year of my life on crutches and
in more pain than prior to the surgery.

I have lived most of my life with RA. I have lived most of my life
dealing with severe pain. I have lived most of my life with decreasing
mobility. I have spent NONE of my life wanting cancer. I have spent
NONE of my life wishing for death.

Five years ago, I was diagnosed with uterine cancer. I had a partial
hysterectomy. Because of the way my legs were bent during that
surgery, I was unable to straighten my leg and walking became very,
very difficult even with a walker. No, I didn't want to die. I wanted
to live, pain and all.

Last year, I was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of breast
cancer. Painful injections, biopsies, and ultimately a mastectomy led
to chemo therapy. Chemo therapy deserves it's reputation. It is
horrible. I went through 5 months of chemo and was getting ready for
radiation. That didn't happen. Two weeks after I finished chemo, my
immune system which was already compromised by RA shut down and I
ended up with almost fatal systemic blood poisoning.
Heather and Kelly, I didn't wish for death. I fought like hell to
live. It was an almost two-month hospital battle and I've been mostly
bed ridden ever since. Yet, pain and all, I want to live and I want to
have as normal a life as I can.

How dare you speak so cavalierly about those of us who face the
battles for survival because of cancer. I can be mean-spirited and
wish you your cancer. But, rather than do that, I wish you compassion
for your fellow man, the ability to see beyond your own disability and
suffering to understand that others are worse off than you and don't
whine about it; and finally, I wish your families and you relief from
your self pity.

You have let your disease define and limit who you are. I refuse to do

For all who have read this blog, which today has been a rant, never
let adversity define who you are and never let it make you give up
hope. My mother used to say, "Where there's life, there's hope."
I hope for all of you a good and healthy life.


  1. Thanks for the courage to write this.

  2. Barbara,
    I was shocked to see this since I contacted you the other day and asked to talk. You did not get back to me. I was waiting for you to get back to me. This is not what I expected.

    I did not say the things you mention. It's all there in black and white. I still wish we could talk. I told you before how sorry I was that I or anyone had hurt you. I am not sure what else can be done.

    I will still pray that we might eventually come to an understanding. I will just tell you that point -by- point I did not do any of the things you say here. I do not believe any of the things you say that I do.
    God bless you,
    Kelly Young
    RA Warrior

  3. Barbara, you are incredible. Sounds like maybe you and Kelly might be able to see eye-to-eye after all. You are an important voice. Isn't the internet a strange and wonderful thing sometimes? Your words will inspire people. I'm honored to "know" you. Hope you are well.