Tuesday, February 2, 2010


O.K. so one thing I will not miss about radiation is my daily dose of a lass I'll nickname Cancer-Zilla. (For those of you with a life, there is a popular show on WE TV called Bridezillas.) We have talked a lot the past few weeks about how patients have a right to feel hurt, angry, and scared about having breast cancer, and how the social pressure to be positive can be hard to handle.

Fair enough.

But while I am ready to make Pink Oscar the new mascot for breast cancer awareness, you can take grouchiness too far.

Like any good New Yorker I can be a little superficial, and I admit I made friends with Cancer-zilla because she was attractive, pulled together, and around my age. Oh, how karma taught me a lesson about judging a book by it's cover.

Cancer-zilla's mission was to spread the misery, pointing out how constantly incompetent the doctors, nurses, techs, and support staffers were at our cancer center. Because that's what you need every day moments before a powerful beam is aimed at your bare body.

I tried to be supportive, to introduce her to the joys of purse size tubes of Aquaphor. (There is the regular small size  and the teeny-tiny two pack.) My reward was a daily dose of doom, gloom, and misery. I started hiding every time I saw her. I wondered if she was really a character from SNL.

Today, my final day, she didn't have time to say hello to me, she was too busy demanding a meeting where she could share her disatisfaction with her team.

We are all entitled to our feelings, we are all "Pink Oscar" on occasion. But if you get to the point where you are spreading the misery with the fervor of a pentecostal preacher, maybe it's time to start considering an attitude adjustment or medication.

I wish Cancer-zilla nothing but the best, I don't think she's a bad person, and I hope she never has to go though this again. For everyone's sake.

Have you met a cancer-zilla? Share your story in our comments section.


  1. Sorry to see she invaded your treatment center after she left mine. I hope she recovers soon!

  2. Movie voice...COMING SOON TO A TOWN NEAR YOU....

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. (Sorry for the typos - I'll try again)
    There was one lady I met that held up my first radiation treatment for about 2 hours because she was so sick. Cancer-zilla was in the waiting room with me (we were scheduled back-to-back every day), griping the whole time. They finally wheeled the other lady out on her gurney to take her back to her room, and she was cheerful and joking with everyone. A week later, the nice lady was able to go home and her sister flew in from out of town to help her. Nice lady had a great sense of humor and always looked for the absurdity of her dilemmas. As her sister & I chatted in the waiting area, Cancer-zilla would interject her daily list of complaints.

    Nice lady was hospitalized a few weeks later and a beautiful light was extinguished when she passed away. Cancer-zilla still roams the earth. It makes me wonder about this positive thinking stuff.

  6. this was from an email my friend in the UK sent.
    The other side of the coin.

    A touching sight over the last few days at rads.   A nice, older middle class couple.  Husband probably mid to late 60s.  Dressed in a very smart suit, clutching his briefcase.  A look of blank despair on his tired face.  His wife being warm and loving but with the air of a woman that cannot quite find a way to make her poor husband feel better.  Over a couple of days I manage to engage them in conversation; they are from a beautiful country area that I know well; I mention the big agricultural show there - do they still have all the pens of sheep and piggies?  The gentleman perks up a bit and explains how it has all moved to a bigger site now and yes, all the animals still come. So each morning now, a little smile, a little chat of greeting.
    We are surrounded by the brave.  This poor man, in his pinstripe suit, clutching his leather briefcase (doubtless echoes of  a past career; a world where he was important and not a patient.......).  Really, he is a little boy in his school uniform, pulling up his socks and trying to be brave in the dentist's waiting room....  And his sweet wife is brave, and tired, and still puts her best foot forward.

    During this journey, we have met heroines and heroes every day.

    And typing this has made me know how I see myself for the future:  perhaps it sounds arrogant.  It is partially because of my generation.

    "We can be Heroes - just for one day........."
    (david bowie).
    So that's me!