Jump to content

Survivor Blog: Excuse me?...Blame the cancer.


Recommended Posts



Kenneth Lourie

Early on during my indoctrination/assimilation into the cancer-patient world in which I now reside, I remember asking a fellow cancer patient/friend if I could use cancer as an excuse for whatever it was needed excusing (directly or indirectly related), and she said: absolutely, “blame the cancer.” Years later, after a chemotherapy infusion, I saw my oncologist walking through the Infusion Center and asked him if my thinning hair might be a result of this most recent chemotherapy drug (not all chemotherapy results in hair loss). His response was similar to what my friend had advised me in 2009. He said: “You can blame me,” (which of course, I understood to mean, cancer/the treatment of cancer) “for anything.”

Now, I have to tell you, having such an acceptable, ready-made, beyond-reproach kind of excuse such as cancer as the reason for anything you want to do/don’t want to do/can’t do, etc., is incredibly tempting. It’s almost like having a super power, a power which cannot be questioned or compromised in any way. And quite frankly, conjures a wide range of emotions/reactions; from one perspective, it places the cancer patient in a position of strength, and on the other, creates a kind dependence that is hard to resist. My fear has always been that relying on cancer too much as an excuse somehow weakens the immune system and so I have been hesitant to use its power. Can you say slippery slope?

As an example: if “the dog ate my homework” became an acceptable excuse, one would use it as such until it no longer passed muster; and as we all know, eventually it doesn’t pass anything. However, cancer as an excuse – in my experience, will always pass muster and then some. Moreover, the seriousness of it will likely prevent the patient from ever having to answer any show-proof type questions: “Show me your port.” “Name your most recent chemotherapy cocktail.” “How long does a typical infusion last?” As a consequence, the potential for use and abuse is almost overwhelming.

Nevertheless, in spite of the temptation, I have rarely used my disease as an excuse for anything, other than when it was obvious by my appearance – during heavy duty chemotherapy – that I was unavailable, shall we say. It always felt as if I might be manipulating situations if I were to start using “cancer” as an excuse; as believable and understandable an excuse as it was/is. It’s so easy. So unquestioned. No one is going to ask: “Really?” “Are you throwing up that much?” “Are you sure you can’t get out of bed?” Besides, I haven’t wanted to give in to my cancer whereby it begins to control my life more than the regular medical appointments, lab work, diagnostic scans, infusions and the 40+ pills I ingest and restricted diet already do. I’ve wanted to maintain some control and try not to become a victim of my own circumstances. Easier said than done, I assure you.

But I have persevered and survived five years and nearly nine months. Through a combination of good genes, a healthier lifestyle and diet, a variety of non-traditional alternatives/supplements and a bit of blind luck, not to mention a super-positive attitude which I inherited from my father, life goes on. However, if anything goes wrong, I know who/what to blame: “cancer.” It wasn’t anything I said or did. In a way, there’s comfort in having such a good excuse. Unfortunate, certainly, but very convenient.


“This column is my life as one of the fortunate few; a lung cancer anomaly: a stage IV lung cancer patient who has outlived his doctor’s original prognosis; and I’m glad to share it. It seems to help me cope writing about it. Perhaps it will help you relate reading about it.” Mr. Lourie’s columns can be found at www.connectionnewspapers.com(link is external). (key word, Lourie) Read Kenneth Lourie’s 1st LUNGevity blog post & bio.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...
  • 2 months later...

Hi Cindy,


Your post really resonated with me. And I'm quite amazed you haven't had more resposes to it. Firstly, congratulations on 6 years btw. It's been barely 10 weeks since my diagnosis.


I quickly picked up on this - being able to use cancer in life as an excuse for everything - basically a free pass. To prevent this from happening, what I've done is kept it secret from all but a tiny handful of people.


The result is when I'm out (if feeling ok between treatment), my social circle still treats me exactly the same as before. Blokey banter and p*ss-takes, and no-one feels awkward about reminding me of my (several) foyables and shortcomings.


This is how life was before cancer, and this is how it should remain. It's grounding. And one of the best decisions I've made so far during this process. In fact I regularly apologise to the few I've told for cursing them with the knowledge. Because cancer does change relationships.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How right you are. Cancer does change relationships a great deal. I have 4 other conditions that give me more trouble and pain than the cancers/  AMD and arthritis for example. I too  have shared the cancer diagnoses with few. Not even my whole family. They would sympathise me to dealh,

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.