Ryan Hamner is a four-time survivor of Hodgkin lymphoma, a musician and a writer. In 2011, he wrote and recorded, "Where Hope Lives" for the American Cancer Society and the song for survivors, "Survivors Survive" used in 2015 for #WorldCancerDay. Recently, he published his book, This is Remission: A Four-Time Cancer Survivor's Memories of Treatment, Struggle, and Life, available on Amazon.
As a cancer patient, people say some of the craziest things to you. Some of the comments are pretty funny, and then for kids some can be a bit brutal. Below are two times comments about my cancer made me laugh and one time that a comment made me fighting mad.
1 - Nice haircut!
The year was 1997. It was the same ol’ drill as the previous three times, diagnosis, chemotherapy, comments and questions. This first comment was pretty friggin’ hilarious in some ways. Me and a friend of mine were walking through the mall. We happened to run into an acquaintance of his. As my friend introduced me to this guy, he of course noticed my shiny, gleaming head. Right after the introduction, without skipping a beat, the guy said, “Nice haircut, you look like a cancer patient.” Me and my buddy turned and looked at each other to gauge what each other’s reactions might be. I think my buddy was checking to see if I would lose it. Just as a note, to make this type of comment to anyone right after meeting them automatically qualifies them for free dental work, but my buddy and I thought this was actually funny because it’s ridiculous level was greater than 1.21 gigawatts. Obviously, this guy didn’t realize I actually had the big C.
2 - Do You Give Off Radiation?
OK, this question/comment is just a bit more clever than others that cancer patients may receive. It’s not totally original though. On several occasions, I’ve been asked if I glowed in the dark or gave off radiation because of past treatments… and on several occasions, as a kid, I’ve actually asked my doctor if I gave off radiation and could glow in the dark. Of course, the answer is no, but that would be pretty friggin’ cool to glow in the dark at 9 years old right? I would have had some killer sleepovers.
3 - Cancer Face!
This was another free dental work comment. I remember I was in the sixth grade. The class had just come back to the classroom from lunch. While we were standing in front of the classroom door, being loud, rowdy and waiting on the teacher to come and unlock the door so we could go back to class, a kid came up to me and just started being, well, a kid—a jerky kid. As kids often do, they say mean-spirited stuff sometimes. I’m not really sure how it all transpired, I think we got into some type of argument, but I just remember the last comment to me being, “Cancer face! You've got a cancer face!” He said this in front of the whole class. They all did the classic, "Oooooohhhh!" Yeah, this wasn’t a funny comment, and also it was very inaccurate in terms of the location of my cancer, but whatever.