Are You ‘Wasting’ Your Cancer?


I’ve heard the phrase, “don’t waste your cancer,” as a way to encourage survivors to tell their stories and donate to nonprofits.

Early on in my cancer journey I read this statement a number of times: “Don’t waste your cancer.”

I think I had even read a couple of articles that may have mentioned this statement or quotes written that may have referenced it. Being a fairly young cancer survivor amid my own cancer journey, I even had that same statement directed towards me by both survivors and well-meaning supporters of the cancer community.

Honestly, in the beginning I did not understand the meaning of this statement. I would lie in bed at night recovering from my cancer treatments and wonder how I am wasting my cancer. Wasn’t it enough that I was going through treatment for my cancer at the time? Do I need to do more?

This was one of those insomniac-fueled nights that chemotherapy can bring as one of its many gifts. I think my brain was just so overloaded with all I had been through up to that point and I just ignored the thought at the time.

I get it we need to raise funds to support the nonprofit organizations that support the much-needed research for a cure.I totally understand the statement and its purpose in trying to motivate survivors to share our stories to have an impact. I’m all for early detection and saving lives. Sharing our individual stories is one of the most powerful ways to create progress in getting this done.

Looking back, I think telling us not to “waste our cancer” was just a way for various cancer organizations to play on the guilty emotions we all feel as cancer survivors. It was created to manipulate us into thinking we aren’t doing enough to promote the various causes.

I know I’m being a bit harsh, and it’s a statement that can be triggering for some but a source of motivation for others. I have felt both in my cancer journey.

As I am about to approach being five years no evidence of disease (NED) from stage 3b colorectal cancer. It's hard to believe how much I would lie in bed at night after my chemotherapy treatments reading through this very series of blogs looking for some sense of support as a patient. Honestly with all the Google posts about treatments and research I just felt a bit lost, and I decided to just stay the course that my medical team had laid out for me. Dr. Google definitely wasn't helping at the time and it was the more personal stories about my fellow cancer survivors that drew me in which at the time gave me hope.

So, no, I am not wasting my cancer, but I survived it. If you have fought this battle with cancer and survived, you have not wasted it. You now have the opportunity to live the life you choose full of love and light. I decided long ago on this journey that I do not choose whatever this cancer experience brings to me. I would consider my interest and be at peace with my decision to choose what I choose to take part in the cancer community.

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