So, cancer reckons it’s in charge? I’m 77 days post-stem cell transplant following my relapse of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, and I say it’s not…

1. Cancer fails to deny its inferiority

As a trained journalist, I’m keenly aware of giving the ‘other side’ of a story the right to reply. So I tried contacting cancer through various media in order to give it a chance to deny its inferiority, but it’s never responded. There is therefore no argument against it: you ARE the boss of cancer.

2. Cancer is needy. You’re not

Quite simply, cancer literally can’t live without you. There’s no use cancer trying to deny it, either: I heard it singing Mariah Carey in the shower. As a human being, on the other hand, you can live perfectly happily without any need for cancer at all. And there’s no need to sing Mariah Carey songs, either.

3. Cancer is self-defeating

Man sawing branch on which he's sitting
Suicide bombers may think their death will advance the cause in which they passionately believe. Or just fancy the 72-virgin reward. If cancer has any sort of ambition, it must be to take over as much of its host’s body as possible. In achieving its aim, though, it will be removing everything it needs to survive, and that’ll be the end of that for our silly cancer friend. What kind of an idiot would do that? Even in the hope of 72 virgins? Cancer can’t win.

4. Cancer has no friends

Nobody likes cancer. Even if they did, they wouldn’t admit to it. When you consider some of the political parties and boy bands people are willing to admit to liking, cancer’s utter lack of popularity is astounding. It doesn’t even have its own Facebook profile, which is of course official confirmation that it has no friends.

5. Cancer has armies of organisations lined up against it

Cancer charity logos
Just a few UK cancer charities

I’d be terrified if I had to face just one of the many organisations fighting cancer. The fact that there are absolutely loads of them, supported by thousands of individuals, companies, etc, and sometimes even the government, and they’re all ON YOUR SIDE can only fill you with confidence. Imagine being cancer and facing that lot charging down the hill at you…

6. Cancer has no sense of humour

I’ve heard a fair few funny jokes about cancer, and the humour’s often pretty black. They make me laugh, though, whereas I’ve never heard cancer laugh. Laughing at or about cancer can be a great reminder that you are the boss of it, and having a laugh at your own situation can be incredibly cathartic. But the closest thing cancer ever gets to making a joke is when it pretends to have gone away, only to – BADOOM-CHA – reappear again. And that’s not very funny.

7. Cancer has nobody like Mariacristina

George and Mariacristina between wedding and reception
What does cancer wake up to in the morning? Yucky insides of the body. What do I wake up to in the morning? Mariacristina. Even when in hospital, I had a huge poster of the above picture from our wedding day stuck on the board in front of me, so she was the first thing I saw when I opened my eyes. You may not have a Mariacristina, but you’ll have your own magical partners/carers/supporters/lovers/motivators to help you through. Admittedly they won’t be Mariacristina, but hey, you can’t have everything. Cancer, though? It’s on its own.

8. Cancer gains no pleasure from bacon sandwiches*
*Bacon sandwiches are symbolic – feel free to replace with tofu, rhubarb or whatever it is that floats your boat…

Scales showing bacon sandwich outweighing cancer
If you’re feeling down about the whole cancer thing, or fed up with having lost your hair, or just generally grumpy at the world, it’s amazing what a bacon sandwich can do. Forget about the cancer! Who cares about hair? This bacon sandwich is delicious and at this very moment, enjoying it is all that matters. Of course, it doesn’t have to be a bacon sandwich; focusing on all of life’s pleasures, however small, is far more fun than festering in your own self-pity. No bacon sandwich? Make one! Cancer, on the other hand, has no such recourse, so if it’s feeling rubbish about being attacked by chemo or zapped by radiotherapy, it has nothing with which to cheer itself up. No bacon for cancer!

9. Cancer doesn’t like chemotherapy

Admittedly, nobody likes chemotherapy. But cancer REALLY doesn’t like it. It’s not quite Superman’s kryptonite, but while it might be damaging to you, it’s hopefully doing far more damage to cancer – and you wouldn’t be getting it if the doctors didn’t think you could tolerate it. If cancer, on the other hand, can’t tolerate it – great! At least when you get chemotherapy, there’s a positive reason; for cancer, it can only be negative…

10. Cancer will never enjoy the fuzzy feel of hair

It may be distressing to lose your hair, so cancer may think it’s got the one-up on you if/when you do. But just you wait until it starts growing back and you (and people you want to impress) can stroke its beautiful baby-like fuzziness. I have to wear a hat to stop myself spending doing so all day – it’s like having a bacon sandwich (or your alternative) available 24 hours a day! Cancer baldies: this is something to look forward to that your cancer will never enjoy.

11. Cancer shares its name with a crab. Sort-of

Crab cartoon with 'cancer' written above it

Okay – admittedly this crab is quite cute, and if you’re born under the cancer star sign, like me, you’re probably a magnificent human being. But in reality crabs are a bit mean – look at its clippety claws! – and ‘crabby’ is definitely an insult (adj (crabbiercrabbiestcolloq bad-tempered – Chambers). Nobody wants to suffer from crabs, either, but the final proof is that you find crab on a seafood menu; if you can eat it, you’re definitely in charge, and by my calculations, if you’re the boss of crabs, you’re definitely the boss of cancer.


PS I can’t stand capitalising the start of every word in titles, but it seems to be what all the links are doing these days…

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