The Blame Game Behind Lung Cancer

The words ‘my mother has cancer,’ typically met by hand-wringing well-wishers fraught with concern, turn insidious the moment the formerly concerned hear the full diagnosis: non small cell squamous carcinoma of the lung.

That’s when the questioning begins: Does she smoke? Did she ever smoke? Do you smoke?

(For the curious, the answers to the aforementioned questions are as follows: No. Yes. No, but I used to.)

No one says it outright, but the implication is clear: She only has herself to blame, or maybe you gave it to her.

Unlike breast cancer or pancreatic cancer, lung cancer carries the stigma of you brought this on yourself; what did you think was going to happen? There are no pretty pink ribbons for lung cancer survivors. There is no highly televised ‘save the lungs’ campaign. (And don’t get me started on how dehumanizing ‘save the tatas’ is. How about ‘save the women?’ Or ‘save the patients’ since not all breast cancer sufferers are women.) But I digress. I’m doing a lot of that these days.

That’s why I’ve been MIA from the blog lately. I’ll be moving to and fro between New Orleans and Jackson, Mississippi to be with my mother during treatment. To be frank, it’s probably going to be a real shit-show. It already has been in a lot of ways. I’ll go into more detail in another post, but right now I’m physically and mentally tired. I wanted to update everyone and purge myself of this entry before it bubbled out of me in a vitriol-filled rant (or, more likely, in ugly sobbing against the first cat I could lay hands on).

With my mother’s permission, I’m going to be writing more about her cancer journey on here. For my own peace of mind. To document her battle. And, hopefully, to help those of you who are going through the same thing.

Fuck cancer.



  1. Fuck cancer.

    No one should be shouldered with blame for their medical conditions. Who cares how you got so an so disease. Treat the patient as a person, not a burden. But we live in a damned judgmental society that’s forgotten how to empathize with people.

    And thank you to your mother for allowing you to share her battle with cancer. We need stories like her to remember the human cost of this insidious disease.

    You have my love. And my sword. And my bow. And my ax. And my giant furry feet.

    1. Exactly, and it’s especially tough for women. Ovarian cancer? You must have been a slut and contracted HPV. Lung cancer? Don’t smoke; it makes you look low-rent. Like anybody cares about how “low-rent” they look when they have cancer. And these are actual comments I’ve seen on YouTube videos! It’s just sick.

      Yeah, and because she was a nurse, she knows how important it is to humanize the disease.

      LOL! I’m glad to be with you, Samwise Gamgee, here at the end of all things.

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