My Little Bs Have the Big C

A Breast Cancer Blog For Young Women

Affirmations That Are Pissing Me Off (Or Am I Just a Bitch?)

21 Comments

Ok.  I admit it.  Since being home from the hospital, I’ve been spending a little too much time on Facebook.  Not that I didn’t before but I’ve taken it to a whole new level.  It’s not healthy.  But it’s been good because I don’t have a huge attention span right now.  I’m super tired all the time so it’s been great entertainment.   That is, until the other day.

I was scrolling through the different posts and I came upon this aphorism from The Breast Cancer Site and it pissed me off.  It got me really angry.aphorism 1

Now, before you decide that I’m a total bitch…and hypocrite, for that matter, let me explain myself.  I love affirmations as much as the next person.  I’ll “Keep Calm and whatever” all over my Facebook page.  There are certain affirmations that help me lift my spirits, remind me of what is important or help me focus on a goal.  Like this one.

aphorism 3

A quote like this, by the glorious Dr. Maya Angelou, reminds me that my struggles are real but I have to keep going.  I can get thrown down but I must get up again.  Why?  Because what other choice do I have?  Maya Angelou, Ghandi, Nelson Madela and many others knew that.

But some of these other affirmations, that have been posted recently on The Breast Cancer Site’s Facebook page have been angering me.  As affirmations alone, they’re fine, I guess. Not overwhelmingly inspiring.  But in the context of breast cancer (or any cancer/illness, for that matter), I find them offensive.  In recent days, they have posted these as well.

aphorism 2aphorism 4

Let’s break this down a bit, starting with the first affirmation.  “Obstacles are put in your way to help you determine if what you want is worth fighting for.”  I think this would be a great thing to say to yourself if you were running the Tough Mudder.  If I had to run through ice cold water while getting electric shocks, this saying would be really fucking helpful!  I’d say it over and over!  But for breast cancer?  Was breast cancer given to me so that I would really know that my life is worth fighting for?  My family?  My child?  My dreams?  I needed cancer for this?  So, I should tell all my friends, “You know, it wasn’t until breast cancer that I really knew that my life was worth fighting for.  I hope you all have this get to experience this as well so you can fight as hard as I have so you realize what you really want in life.”  Fuck no!!!!!!!!!

“It’s time that you realize you’re worth a hell of a lot more than you think.”  Because, my self worth before cancer (BC) was so low, so shoddy, that I didn’t think I was worthy of the good things in my life?  I needed cancer to teach me that, of course.  Thank you so much, breast cancer!!!  I now realize that I’m so fucking awesome and everyone should love me and great things should happen to me all the time because I’m AMAZING!!!!!!  This could never have happened without YOU!

“Once I overcame breast cancer, I wasn’t afraid of anything anymore.”  Shall I make a list of things I’m still afraid of, or even more afraid of because of breast cancer?  Why not?  Let’s have some fun here.

  1. Dying
  2. Needles (yep, still afraid of those)
  3. Surgery (yep, still afraid of that)
  4. Infections
  5. Recurrence
  6. Recurrence with metastasis
  7. Mammograms
  8. MRI’s
  9. Any scan that can show that something is wrong with me
  10. Life long lymphedema
  11. Not being around to see my son grow up, get married and have his own children
  12. Cockroaches (the big ones)
  13. Most insects, for that matter
  14. Falling (not to be confused with heights.  Heights are fine, falling from them is not.)
  15. Skydiving
  16. Dogs that bark too loud
  17. Dark, empty allies
  18. Dying before I change the world
  19. Dying before I see the world
  20. Torture
  21. Racism
  22. Donald Trump
  23. Putin
  24. ISIS
  25. Drowning
  26. Ignorance
  27. Lack of Education
  28. The people who run the NYC Department of Education
  29. The people who run the NYC MTA who keep hiking up fares but cutting service
  30. The rich people who are pricing me out of the city I love

I could go on but, I think 30 is a fair start.  Breast cancer is scary.  It’s really scary and I think I was brave as I underwent (undergo?) treatment.  But that suit of armor that we all put on to get through all of the tough shit that accompanies a cancer diagnosis, comes off.  It gets taken away and suddenly we’re left to fend for ourselves without any protection.  Is breast cancer scary?  Yes.  But I’ll be damned if beating cancer for now means I’m not supposed to be scared anymore.  That I’m some fucking Xena Warrior Princess who walks down Broadway screaming “Get out of my way, motherfuckers!  I beat breast cancer!  What have you done lately?”  I’m scared.  I’m scared every day of my life and I can’t imagine that a day will come where I won’t be frightened.

When you put these affirmations on a website or Facebook page for people with breast cancer or those who have survived it, I think you need to be careful.  The intentions are good.  But it alienates us that don’t fit into the “my cancer was a gift” or “my cancer made me stronger” or “my cancer made me a better person” model.  I will never be that spokesperson.

Maybe since my body had been ripped apart again, I’m feeling a little bit cranky.  I don’t know.  But this has really upset me.  Am I overreacting?  Am I being a total killjoy, a complete bitch?  Or are they forgetting those of us who are forever destroyed, in some way, because of this assault on our bodies?  I think it is the latter.

 

**I shared this post on the Visitor Post portion of The Breast Cancer Sites Facebook page, asking them to consider my point of view and to please share it for those who are experiencing breast cancer like myself and many of you.  I checked back this morning and it looks like they removed it from their page.  I find this hurtful.  Simply because I do not have the same cheery point of view, I don’t fit in there.  What a shame.  Sometimes their silly puppy videos gave me a smile.**

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21 thoughts on “Affirmations That Are Pissing Me Off (Or Am I Just a Bitch?)

  1. Carrie, I don’t think you’re a bitch. I read these and had the same reaction, but you already know how I feel about platitudes. These sayings, while designed to pump you up, keep you going and make you feel better, are really just bullshit. To me it’s like shoving a cookie in a whining child’s mouth instead of taking care of the real problem. They just seem so shallow. btw: I also loved the Maya Angelou quote. Now that’s something to post.

    • Thanks, Eileen. Like I said, I think their intentions are good but they need to put things into context. I’m really disappointed in them! And Maya Angelou kicks ass!!!!!!

  2. Carrie, you are NOT a bitch. You are a realist, like me. Someone who isn’t afraid to stay true to herself despite the societal expectations. I don’t like platitudes. And I started to un-follow some organizations on social media because of it. You are right, they leave us out. But not only that, they also create a level of pressure patients do not need. It’s OK to feel angry and sad or whatever. These are all real emotions that can contribute to our healing. You continue to be you.

    Here’s my favorite definition of a platitude by Tim Lawrence: “Platitude — a mechanism of control, avoidance and condescension typically offered to someone with great pain, adversity, or in the wake of tragedy. Generally packaged in a veil of flowery language, comprised entirely of bullshit.” Don’t you just love it?

    • I think I felt like a bitch compared to all of the other women who would respond to those platitudes with “Amen” “I agree” and so forth. And I would comment on what bullshit it all was. And I was only one of a few or sometimes the only one with this point of view. I love that quote you left, though! It’s fantastic!

  3. You’re honest Carrie and that doesn’t make you a bitch. In fact, it’s refreshing to read. I just happened to stumble upon your post, your title intrigued me and I couldn’t leave without thanking you for your honesty and generosity in sharing your journey & feelings. Keep fighting the good fight XXX

    • Thank you for reading my post. I’m glad that it resonated with you in some way. I hope you stop by again and read some more. I look forward to looking at your blog later today.

  4. Pingback: Weekly Round Up | Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer

  5. Yep, I’m with you. Guess I’m a bitch too then. Just kidding. Like Rebecca said, we are realists. So many of those memes with platitudes floating around drive me nuts too. I tend to click away fast. Thanks for speaking out. And keep healing.

    • Thanks, Nancy. I was wondering if you were going to respond to this post since you, literally have just written a book about this very thing. I read your posts sometimes and am so aware of all of the knowledge you have amassed since your own diagnosis and then I become keenly aware of the fact that I’m still in the discovery phase, even though I’m more than a year past my own diagnosis. Thank you for supporting me in that. It would be so easy for someone to dismiss it as “old news.” You honor the place I’m at with respect. Thank you!

  6. I HATE affirmations!!! and so very sorry they removed your post. It is painful to know that various points of view and meaningful conversation is censored.

  7. Carrie, I hate these blasted things. They are so patronizing and wrong-headed. I mean, as if…

    You are so not alone. xoxo, Kathi

  8. My people! Here you are! If one more person tells me something like this I may beat the crap out of someone

  9. Really enjoyed this post! Well I’m definitely not a bitch, and can confirm that those affirmations are total crap – patronizing bulls**t.

  10. I am in complete agreement. I always feel angry when I’m in the emergency room being told that I’m lucky, it could’ve been worse. Yes, it could’ve been worse. No, I am not lucky. The lucky ones are home with their families, completely oblivious to my pain and suffering. I am okay trying to grateful for the silver lining, but don’t pretend that I need to be grateful for the @$&@! storm cloud that came with it, and dumped all over my life.

    • People who say we’re lucky aren’t being sympathetic to our situation. We are always luckier than someone else. We are also always worse off. Comparing doesn’t help at all. I never compare. Pain is pain. Illness is illness. I’m sorry that you are going through a challenging time. It would be more helpful if people acknowledged that for you, especially nurses and doctors. Thank you for reading my post.

  11. Those fucking affirmations are pissing me off, too– as is the fact that they took down your post! (And for the record, I do love a good affirmation.) For one thing, as you write so perfectly, I may be less willing to let my fears hold me back since breast cancer, but I’m certainly more afraid than I was before my diagnosis.

    • I love a good affirmation too!!!! Love them! Just not some of these.
      And I’m not happy they took my post down. I wrote to them asking why. After 3 days I didn’t hear back. I didn’t check again.

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