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The Cancer Minority

This will be fun. Let’s listen to the middle-class white guy talk about how he’s part of a minority. That certainly shouldn’t rustle any feathers, eh? Well let’s just dive into it. So for all the haters out there saying I have no right to talk about being a minority, let’s get some facts out there. There were roughly 15 million people who at one point were diagnosed with cancer living in the US in 2015 according to cancer.gov. Per the US Census, there were about 320 million people living in the US in 2015. Doing the math, that means that 5% of people in the US are living or have once lived with active cancer. If I consult my trusty friend Wikipedia, the most factual place on the interwebs, the closest minority race living in the US at that point was Asian at 16 million or 5.2%. So by definition, the cancer minority does exist. Shocking, right? Less than 50% of Americans have cancer, who knew?

What’s my point? Am I just some whiny white boy dying to say that I’m part of a minority? Of course not. But I wanted to point out that we cancer-havers are indeed a cancer minority and I think that makes us a community, and like every community, there are bound to be some bad eggs. This may sound odd, but I believe having cancer and being part of the cancer minority is a privilege. It gives you certain social powers and allows you to affect people’s emotions in a way that the average healthy citizen cannot. I  can ask people on the train to give up their seat for me because I have cancer and they probably would. If somebody is giving me a tough time I can say, “well I have cancer” and immediately make them feel bad for treating me the way they would anyone other shmuck. But I don’t do these things.

Getting cancer doesn’t suddenly make you a good person, it just makes you a more socially powerful one. If you have been a rude, selfish, entitled person all your life and suddenly you get cancer, that’s not going to turn you nice. It’s just make you a rude, selfish, entitled person who now has the power to make other people feel bad about themselves. To make a parallel, let’s discuss that dude from Empire real quick. The one who allegedly faked a hate crime. He was a member of 2 communities, the acting community and the black community. What he allegedly did makes both of these entire communities look bad. Now, whenever a black person actually endures a hate crime, their word is tainted and weakened by the actions of this one dude. What’s to stop other black people from faking hate crimes? How will we know who to trust and who not to? Same with women and sexual assault. If one woman makes up an accusation, what’s to stop others? How will we know who was a victim and who is a liar?

I’m not trying to get into a political debate here, and I hope I haven’t offended anyone with my words. The point I’m making is that it drives me crazy when I see other cancer-havers taking advantage of the people around them for their own benefit in a negative way, because it doesn’t just make them look bad, it make me look bad too. It makes all us cancer-havers in the entire cancer minority look bad. I’m not saying don’t ask for the seat on the train if you need to sit. I’m not saying don’t start a GoFundMe to raise donations to pay your medical bills. I’m saying don’t do things that will make other cancer-havers look bad in comparison. Don’t be rude to someone and then say, “I have cancer, I can do whatever I want!” I know I covered a lot of this in my previous blog, but it’s not just about knowing how not to be an asshole. It’s about knowing that by being an asshole you’re making others look bad too.

I guess I’ll just say this, don’t do anything that would make you uncomfortable if you say another member of the cancer minority doing it. If you’re thinking about doing something that you would be embarrassed to see another cancer-haver do, then just don’t. For all of us. Let’s do our best to protect the cancer brand cause that would suck if one day cancer would not only kill you, but make other people assume you’re an ass as well.

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