Meredith McNerney: Why Cancer Doesn’t Always Suck

While I am a firm believer – and I think practitioner – of make the best of it, with all due respect to the author, I find this a bit over the top.

It’s true that most of us become more reflective and appreciative, and refocus more our attention on the people important to us, I think most of us would give that up in a flash not to have cancer. And most of us were not ‘bad’ before we got cancer, just not as full and appreciative as we could be.

My first time with treatment, I ironically called it a ‘learning experience’. It was and is, but there must be easier ways. However, her last para is strong and captures the benefit of having a positive attitude:

Today, I can say that cancer does not always suck. As a result of facing cancer, I have a clearer perspective on my purpose in life, stronger relationships, and a greater sense of what really matters. I was 31 when I faced cancer. I should have never had to endure such hardship. But as all survivors know, it is the obstacles that we face that make us who we will become and I am pretty happy with where I’ve ended up.

Any thoughts on cancer as a blessing or curse?

Meredith McNerney: Why Cancer Doesn’t Always Suck.


2 thoughts on “Meredith McNerney: Why Cancer Doesn’t Always Suck

  1. The religious principle of befriending your enemy has long been applied to misfortune, including disease, in many circumstances. This is not to say “God never sends you more than you can bear” (obviously false) or “put on a happy face” (predictably dishonest). Nor is it an excuse for playing the victim. Instead, it points to the uses of adversity, including such things as self-examination, sorting out our values, and cultivating gratitude. Jeremy Taylor, in the 19th century, talked about “advantages of sickness.” The Canadian writer Arthur W. Frank speaks of “illness as a dangerous opportunity.” McNerny doesn’t get to that level, but she points in the general direction anyway.

    • Thanks Richard for reminding me of the religious roots and the timelessness of how we handle misfortune. And I recall that you had sent me to Arthur Frank’s work, which I found powerful. I think most of us get to the realization that yes, while we would have preferred not to have cancer, we have emerged with more self-examination, sorting out our values, and increased gratitude. Part of being human is to make the best of the lot we have been given, and ‘dangerous opportunity’ captures it well. I think, and maybe I am too much a middle of the road type person, the question is of balance; some people go over the top on how they express the opportunity (which of course is better than the opposite, sinking below the bottom in despair over loss).

      Thanks for adding your reflections, thoughtful as always.


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