This is my private term for making manipulative use of the terror and pity that cancer inspires in most people.

I'm a cancer patient. I'm not dying;1 I'm not in pain; I'm not even greatly inconvenienced 2 by it. However, every so often I succumb to the temptation to say, "Excuse me, I'm a CANCER PATIENT..." in order to intimidate people into considering my needs.

Mea culpa.

  1. Except in the sense that I am mortal, just like everyone else.

  2. These things are relative. I have very low energy, but I was never a triathlete anyway.

If an adult cancer patient evokes pity in the hearts of caring, sensitive people, imagine the havoc wreaked by a young child stricken with some form of this terrible disease. No, really, imagine. Imagine a bald eight year old, pale and thin, barely managing a weak smile as she clutches to her IV pole.

Aren't you just about ready to pull out your wallet? The dreaded childhood cancer card is absolutely infallible. I used it to get into a private high school and then played it again to get financial aid. I plan to use it to get into college, too. Of course, there's nothing better for homework assignments. A childhood cancer story equals an automatic A, even if it's titled "How I Had Cansur" and is half a page long double spaced and the assignment was to write an eight page paper comparing medieval Europe and pre-Qing Dynasty China. Frankly, I expect you to upvote this writeup heavily, because, well, I had cancer.

And talk about free stuff! Free tickets to amusement parks, free tickets to concerts, free tickets to sporting events - people just love to see those cancer kids having fun. Celebrities love to take pictures with them, too. And people will buy you anything. All the cancer kids I know have gotten at least one free trip to Disneyland out of someone. A friend of mine spent one summer flying around the country going from cancer camp to cancer camp, all on the American Cancer Society's ticket.

When I have kids, I'm going to shave their heads and keep 'em indoors so that people will give them things. Of course, this will make them spoiled brats, but then again, most kids who had cancer are, too. And you're not allowed to smack 'em.

When I was in chemotherapy my wife and I similarly called this "putting it on the cancer." As in: "I was really hungry but we don't have any money, so I called up some friends who worked in a restaurant and put some food on the cancer." Like it was a American Express card or something....

Maybe not the most moral idea in the world, but I was potentially dying, in pain, and majorly inconvenienced. Cancer patients don't become angels, with only pure motives, just because they happen to be victims. Often they are particularly looking for ways to vent their frustrations at the lack of control over life and inevitability of death. I don't consider this a darker side of cancer victims, but an essential humanness.

Also, this was one of the only ways my wife and I could find to poke fun at the situation we were in. We were both 19, broke, uninsured, had been married a month, were preparing to move, and boom! I get diagnosed with cancer.

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