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That’s the Kind of Cancer to Get

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that’s the kind of cancer to get, I could actually pay some of my doctor’s bills. What do you do when people tell you that that’s the kind of cancer to get?

I’m doubly blessed

I was recently diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma. And I’ve had skin cancer twice in the past. Since renal cell carcinoma is often curable by removing the tumor, I hear the same comments I did when I had skin cancer. “Oh, you’re lucky because if you are going to get cancer, that’s the kind of cancer to get.” I was even told that it wasn’t that serious since it has a high rate of survival after five years. What the heck?

People think they are saying something positive

I think some people who make these kinds of comments are legitimately trying to sound positive. They think by minimizing my experience, they’re showing me a good outlook to have. The others? Well, friends or not, some people are just cruel. They don’t see the fuss over skin cancer, and some don’t see much of a fuss over kidney cancer - both being fairly curable if caught in time.

What they don’t understand is that while I’m grateful I don’t have leukemia, or another serious type of cancer, my experience is just as frightening as many other forms of cancer diagnoses. Both skin cancers were caught early enough to have MOHs surgery, yet I have scars from both. And as far as my kidney cancer, it was caught by accident. While yes, I have a high survival rate, I’m also losing a kidney, and part of one on the other side has already been taken.

What do you do?

So, what do you do with these comments? How do you respond? I usually just tell them that yes, I’m grateful things were caught early. But if I’m in a less-than-happy mood, which happens more often now with everything going on, I’ll take things a tad further. I’ll share that while both cancers are curable (usually) if caught early, I still have to go through surgery. I still get tired from having a partial nephrectomy. I still have scars from both skin cancer surgeries. And most importantly, both of these cancers can come back. Just because I had two skin cancers removed doesn’t mean another can’t pop up. And just because they’ll remove my kidney cancer tumors doesn’t mean it won’t return; that’s the whole reason I’ll need scans every six months.

Most people mean well

Most people mean well. They’re simply trying to see a positive outlook. But I’m not fooled that some are simply being dismissive of me. For whatever reason, they don’t want me (or you) to get attention for something they believe isn’t that serious. It’s not like I’m getting chemo or radiation - for now. And to some of them, that is what they know of cancer. For it to be serious, you have to have chemotherapy and radiation, lose your hair, and ring the bell when you’re done. They don’t get that there are many forms of cancer, and all are serious to the one dealing with it.

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