Sometimes people ask me if I “play the cancer card”, and my typical answer is “absolutely”. Here’s a long, round-about reason why; explained by stretching two poorly connected concepts.
Back in 2006 or 2007 while I was working on my undergraduate degree at UBC in Vancouver, I went to a friend’s birthday at a popular bar on Davie street. If you know Vancouver at all, you’ll know that Davie street is popular amongst the LGBTQ+ community and this was my first experience at a gay bar.
While I was waiting for the bartender, a young man came up to me and offered to buy me a drink. My knee jerk response was to say “no thanks”, and explain that I’m not interested in men… but then I got to thinking. How many times had I bought a drink for a woman who wasn’t interested in me?
Buying a drink for a woman in order to strike up a conversation is not something I ever did frequently, but maybe a small handful of times. I thought if Karma exists, maybe this is my chance to level things out on the drink-buying front (I feel obligated to mention that drinks at this place were about $12 each… a life-altering sum of money at this stage of my life).
So I accepted the drink, chatted with the man for a good while, thanked him, then excused myself to rejoin my friends.
I guess the moral of the story is this: Buying a drink for someone who isn’t interested in you is at least 99% shitty (like being diagnosed with Cancer); but if the universe offers you an opportunity to make up that remaining 1% in your favor, I say take it (I told you this one was a stretch… but that’s how it works in my mind!).
Am I proud of this story? No… But I like to think that the gentleman at the bar bought a drink for his future husband soon after our encounter.
“Playing the Cancer card” isn’t about getting sympathy, it’s about dampening the blow of being diagnosed with Cancer, however minimally. Like when Amanda and I had to cancel a big surprise trip she had planned for my 30th birthday due to my relapse. We told airlines and ticket vendors the reason we were canceling and offered medical documentation in case they needed it so they knew we weren’t trying to scam them. Many of the businesses cited their cancellation policy and were unable to help us, but a select few were able to make an exception and provide us with a refund. Still a very dark cloud, but I’m not too proud to smile at the silver lining.
Life for us is getting as close to “normal” as it’s been in a year and a half. I am scheduled to get chemo (with my misunderstood cancer-fighting partner, Brentuximab) every 3 weeks, but there have been a few delays because my immune system has been too weak to receive chemo. I’m working 20 to 35 hours a week, playing basketball and ultimate frisbee, and helping a friend coach a basketball team of 12-year-old boys.
Most importantly, in a few days, Amanda and I are going to be heading to Morocco for a little under 2 weeks! Maybe this is the universe offering consolation for the trip we had to cancel before my last birthday?
So it goes.