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Every cancer patient has probably played it at one time or another. We’ve mentioned that we had cancer to get out of doing something, to get sympathy, a discount, or maybe just to get ahead in line.

I can remember right after getting the news that I had cancer my driving being somewhat erratic and I thought “I can use cancer to get out of a ticket”. If an officer asked me why I was driving so fast, slow, or crazy I would just say “I was thinking about having cancer”.

I had to laugh when I realized that this might work for anyone, you certainly don’t have to have cancer to be thinking of it.

Sometimes it may be justified, we don’t feel well, we are in a line and about to faint, fall or vomit. We need to get in to see the doctor quick and our problems are serious.

I remember once being put on a two month waiting list to see a certain doctor and I asked if those seeing her that week had serious illnesses like cancer. I got an appointment for the next week.

It’s a personal decision when and what to tell people about your state of cancer. In my opinion there is nothing wrong with using the cancer card to get sympathy or attention.

Cancer is a freakishly frightening disease and sympathy and attention are warranted.

At the beginning of treatment for cancer a cancer patients life is very busy, lot’s of procedures, doctor’s visits, phone calls and visits from family and friends. When healing, especially from the treatment that goes with cancer begins, those visits decline, the attention wanes.

Yet there is still lingering fear, discomfort and sometimes pain. It can be lonely, and scary. So there is nothing wrong with answering the guy at the grocery check outs inquiry “How are you today” with “Not bad considering I have cancer”.

Except there comes a time for many cancer survivors when affirming that you HAVE cancer is no longer useful. In fact it may be counter productive. There is a time when it seems healthier to say I HAD cancer. It’s simply a more positive affirmation.

Next comes a time when you no longer even say you have cancer or think it. You are much too busy living life.

When I finally did get stopped by the police for speeding while driving, I took the ticket with no fuss and thanked the officer. Cancer is just not the first thing on my mind anymore.

So when and where have you used the cancer card? Did it work? What do you think about playing the cancer card? Is there ever an appropriate time for it? Is it ever inappropriate? How does it influence the way you think about your cancer?

Monday Night Cancer Club is a Daily Kos group focused on dealing with cancer, primarily for cancer survivors and caregivers, though clinicians, researchers, and others with a special interest are also welcome. Volunteer diarists post Monday evenings between 7-8 PM ET on topics related to living with cancer, which is very broadly defined to include physical, spiritual, emotional and cognitive aspects. Mindful of the controversies endemic to cancer prevention and treatment, we ask that both diarists and commenters keep an open mind regarding strategies for surviving cancer, whether based in traditional, Eastern, Western, allopathic or other medical practices. This is a club no one wants to join, in truth, and compassion will help us make it through the challenge together.

I have played the cancer card to get

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