A Weekend With Cancer

I met Skippy last year, in person, at a Renaissance Festival. I’ve been reading her blog for a while now, and she always slips things into my world that are truly and hysterically funny. Like a shrewd Internet astronomer, she gleams jewels from the   cacophonous masses and from that Skippy somehow finds only the best, and most funny, videos and websites.  Now Skippy isn’t one of these Generation Y slackers who spend half a day in front of a monitor. She sells jewelry at Fairs, and works as a librarian, too.  This is a highly motivated human being who happens to enjoy providing laughter to other people. Skippy also has one hell of a blog that has spawned some very serious silliness involving otters.




One in eight women will get breast cancer. Cancer is the word that stops hearts and silences thought.  In the Grand Scheme of Things, Cancer is as serious as it is going to get, if aliens with Death Rays aren’t involved in the conversation.  It’s a four hour drive down so I get to think about it. Skippy has gone through her final round of chemo, a little hair is beginning to show up on her head, but it isn’t over. Chemo is a slow poison that kills off the fastest growing cells it can find. Never mind if those cells are normally hair cells, taste buds, the palms of your hands the bottom of your feet, and cells in the sinus cavities. Chemo doesn’t know any better. It also wears a person out, and slows them down. I have four hours to decide what to do.


In the end, I decided to talk about cancer if Skippy wanted to talk about it. We did talk about it, and most of what I now know I’ve learned from her. Bravery isn’t the ability to ignore fear; bravery is the ability to keep going even though the fear is sometimes overwhelming.  It’s the ability to be yourself even though there is something inside of you that is going to kill you if you don’t kill it first. Skippy explained her limitations, how quickly she would get tired, so we spent much time talking about a lot of things, but no, not only the disease.


Skippy and I pretty much dissed Cancer.


We went out to eat great food, we listened to weird music, talked about the things in our pasts that have shaped our lives, and we decided that we would do those things that we would do if Cancer wasn’t there.  When we went out Skippy wore a covering for her bald head, but it wouldn’t have mattered to me.  Hey! What’s a matter with a shiny pate, eh? It would have been somewhat odd; two bald people eating lunch together. Cult or cancer? In this case cult. It is a not nearly rare enough sisterhood of women who pick up and go about their lives, even though they have a disease that scares the living hell out of them.


If you know someone with Cancer don’t look past it. Live with them the side effects, the baldness, the fear, the tiredness and the effort. Understand what it takes to live this way, and make sure you can do what you can to help carry a burden that lives within them. Honor their courage with simple ordinary moments.


If you know someone with Cancer look past it. Look past the side effects, look past the baldness, look past the fear, look past the tiredness, look past the effort it takes to go through a normal day and you will discover the same person you’ve always known. That’s the person you need to talk to, to eat with, to play with, and to spend time with.  Honor their effort with simple ordinary moments.


Breast Cancer is not one disease but an umbrella name for many forms of the same disease. Each case will be as different as the human being it affects. Each woman who hears the words, knows the fear, and lives the life, will be as different as each woman who does not.  Each woman that goes into battle with this disease and returns to normal life afterwards come out of that war a more whole human being than ever before. You ought to consider it an honor, and a privilege, to be a part of that process, even if you’re nothing more than a cheerleader on the sidelines, and believe me,  that in itself is no small thing. You should consider it an honor, and a privilege to know people who can face Cancer with such determination, and with such bravery. 


I do.


Take Care,


Mike Firesmith   Mike Firesmith wrote
on 6/4/2008 10:19:30 AM
Star, You should have seen some of the looks we got in public though!!! Thanks for hte kind words.

StarPoet   StarPoet wrote
on 6/3/2008 12:55:28 AM
I have a friend that just went through the same thing as Skippy. I still accept her as my friend and respect her more for she was determined to survive. My best to her and to Skippy. And to you too for being there for her, Mike.

dusk   dusk wrote
on 6/2/2008 1:37:47 AM
Great one.

penname   penname wrote
on 6/1/2008 7:04:34 PM
perfect. reality. thanks.

Mike Firesmith
Special Interest
Health, mind and body
writing Mike Firesmith
I write
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It can kill a body, but not a spirit
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