Cancer’s a Bitch

“I’m so sorry,” Gam says to me one night.


“I’m sorry I’m a pain in the ass.”

“You are not a pain in the ass.”

She’s quiet for a moment–then hangs her head and sighs. “I have cancer.” 


The statement stops me in my pajama-putting tracks. She’s never actually come out and said that to me before. It’s always “this thing,” “this disease,” or “this silly thing that I’ve got”–as if not speaking it into existence would somehow make it all go away. I guess having someone dress and change you drives certain points home.

How do you even respond to that?

So I take her face in my hands and say, “Hey friend? I am so glad I get to be here with you and help you. It’s like a Christmas present.”

She gives me the Gam look. The “you are full of it and I’m going to smack you” look.

I laugh a little. And offer the only piece of wisdom I had in my back pocket.

“You know what my friends say, Gam?”


“Cancer’s a bitch.” 

Her whole face perks up–like she’s received sort of divine, life-changing revelation.

“Yeah . . .” she nods. “Cancer is a bitch!”

She’s got a smile on her face now. I feel like I’ve done my good deed for the day.

“You should say it again,” I suggest. And she does–in every way possible.

“Cancer’s a bitch.”

Cancer’s a bitch.”

“Cancer is. A. Bitch.”

And finally, with a triumphant fist in the air–“Cancer is a GREAT BIG BITCH!”

She looks up at me for approval. And there, sitting on the side of the bed, shouting profanities to the universe with my grandma, there’s plenty to go around.


3 thoughts on “Cancer’s a Bitch

  1. Pingback: Remembering Gam | blackbeltgam

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