Sadly, we live in a culture where discrimination is more often the norm than the exception. People are discriminated against for all sorts of things like race, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, appearance, intelligence, etc. And even worse yet, discrimination starts younger and younger with every generation. I actually know of a situation where a Kindergarten class had to ban the girls from wearing Uggs, because the children who were wearing a less expensive version like Bearpaws were being made fun of. THAT IS RIDICULOUS. I see it all the time at the high school level, where students are ridiculed for the brands they wear or don’t wear. Discrimination is an unfortunate element of society that is obtrusive and even worse seemingly permanent.
I have been thinking a lot about this lately as I struggle with the nasty side effects of prednisone, which have significantly altered my appearance; so much so that multiple people commented on how I am unrecognizable or have put on a lot of weight. I even overheard a student in the hall say “Geez, Ms. P got fat over the summer”. I actually have to agree that it would appear that way if you have never encountered someone who has been forced to take a lengthy course of steroids. The worst part is that you are made to feel even worse about yourself as a result of comments like these while dealing with the fact that the steroids wreak havoc on your body (or at least they do mine) and cause you to be additionally emotional (because every woman needs that). So basically you are one hot mess and by hot, sweaty should also be included in this list of irritating side effects. And you know that you are irritable and miserable and making your loved ones equally as miserable. (If I were Josh I would have waited to move until I tapered off the steroids, because roid rage from prednisone may actually be a thing!) So essentially my steroid induced puffiness has lead to my own personal hell but also lesser degree of discrimination.
Now something you may not be aware of is that people also make discriminatory comments about cancer patients. The first time I was exposed to this I too was surprised, because most of the time we see communities rally around people who have cancer by holding benefits, offering support, or even just kind words. But there are always the few that feel their commentary is pertinent. For example, I have witnessed people blaming the cancer patient for their illness because perhaps they didn’t lead the healthiest life style. So while I recognize that I have been slightly overweight for years (but otherwise healthy) I can’t quite figure out how I caused my relatively rare blood cancer. I had no interaction with vampires, no great love affair like Bella and Edward. And yet somehow, I ended up with blood cancer. As if being diagnosed with cancer isn’t bad enough for a person, others feel it necessary to shame them. I just think that’s asinine!
There are also the people that believe that certain cancers are better than others. Yes, some cancers are far more life threatening, but let’s be honest THERE IS NO GOOD CANCER! I supposedly have one of the most curable cancers and yet here I am a year and half later still trying to get rid of it. Seems super easy right. Even people who have cancer discriminate against each other based on how long they have been dealing with their cancer. One woman in my support group was told that her year and half of fighting was nothing compared to to their seven year experience. There is no comparison. ONE DAY OF FIGHTING ANY CANCER IS TOO MANY!! It’s too many for the cancer patient, too many for their friends and family, it’s just too many. And yet people cancerscriminate based on experience, type, etc. I just think it’s sad. It is already so hard for the person living with cancer to lead a normal life, I don’t think it should be made harder by discrimination. Lately, so many people in my support group (most of whom are relatively young between 20 and 40) are talking about how their significant other left them because they couldn’t handle the change in their appearance, thought cancer was just too much, etc. Others talk about how impossible it is to find a relationship even once they’ve reached remission because there is always that possibility that you relapse or because their attitude on life has changed so much. I often remark to Josh and my parents how I just don’t understand how people can complain about the most ridiculous things when I have to face my own mortality on a daily basis. But then again as my mom points out, I have to remember that people who have not been in my situation don’t have the same outlook on life and it isn’t fair for me to ‘discriminate’ against their complaining tendencies because they don’t have cancer. I struggle with that somewhat. Just because my perspective has changed doesn’t mean that the people’s around me has. Never an easy lesson to learn!
In addition to the individual elements of cancer related discrimination, there are also cancers that seem to be discriminated against. For example, breast cancer receives the most media attention and thus receives a lot of funding. But why don’t other cancers? Why does childhood cancer only receive 4% of funding? Aren’t children our future? Melanoma is one of the most deadly forms of cancer and is certainly one of the most aggressive and yet in terms of media attention, it receives very little. If anything the incidence of melanoma could be drastically reduced with a media campaign targeting tanning teenagers. So in some ways organizations that help also contribute to the cancerscrimination that exists within the larger society.
So I guess my take away from this is that you never know what someone else is going through and consider that “everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about”. Try to be considerate and kind! And discrimination of any kind is just plain wrong.
Also as a side note, Josh actually came up with the title cancerscrimination. I like to give credit where credit is due.