How can cancer change your life?

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How can cancer change your life: painting of hand shadow holding a man against a wall

How can cancer change your life?

Along with the stress and anxiety that come with having a potentially terminal disease, people you have known for years suddenly see you differently. Why? Read on if you want to understand how cancer can change your life.

Cancer changes your life and your frienships

When friends abandon you during illness, it hurts. it really hurts. But among the sea of acquaintances and friends who will suddenly vanish from your side will be those who mean well but don’t have a clue on how to talk with someone who has cancer. Let me tell you how it feels to have the same exact conversations with 100 people who mean better but are just clueless about what to say.

The first few hours after your diagnosis are filled with tears, anger, fear, and more anger. Why me?

In my case, I was diagnosed with stage four kidney cancer on December 27, 2015. Why me? 

I didn’t smoke, drink, or do illegal drugs. No one knew. You have cancer and only a 10-percent chance of living, and we have no idea why.

The hardest part of talking about cancer is that first week or two, where you cannot even say the word cancer yourself. I called my sister-in-law within a few hours of my appointment to tell her, and the word “cancer” came out like an unintelligible mess. It took me almost two weeks to be able to say the word without crying. But once you reach that point, everything changes.

“ It is not life as we know or understand it. Yet it is obviously alive; it exists.”


Cancer changes the way people look at you and talk to you

You look great

If I had a dime for every time someone told me I looked great after they knew I had cancer, I would be able to drink myself into a stupor

When people think of cancer, they think of bald, frail people attached to IV bottles. The reality is that most cancer patients do not look like they have cancer.

I try to avoid making people feel uncomfortable, but I could not resist when a friend of mine told me I looked great. I said:

“For years, you never commented on how I looked. Now I look great. Cancer is a beautifier!”

He got the joke, but he also got the message.

Please talk to me

The first thing I noticed when I got home from my cancer surgery is that no one wanted to talk to me because they did not know what to say. That is perfectly normal, but I wanted to put a stop to it.

I’m a fairly well-known writer in my area, and I immediately wrote a piece announcing my diagnosis. I also had the advantage of being on a local Internet radio talk show at

On my first radio show back after surgery, I insisted that the rest of the cast join me in making fun of cancer. In my opinion, it is okay to laugh at cancer.

We personified cancer and then proceeded to explain what we would do to it. While some of it got a little too close to the FCC for my tastes, I loved it.

I am one of those people who wants to talk about cancer because I know how it scares people. I can see by the looks in people’s eyes that they are scared for me, but I make them laugh and tell them not to be afraid. Some don’t listen. Some still want to hold me like a little baby and stroke my skin until they feel better. But it doesn’t work that way. Just talk to me about cancer, and I will talk back. 

Talking to someone with cancer like me is the best way for both of us to get through it and for you to help confront your own mortality. People fear cancer because of the unknown. That is why I talk openly about my experience. 

If I can help just one person take on their cancer fight with an air of defiance instead of fear because I told them what to expect, then all of that talk was worth it. This is how cancer can change your life.

Article by
George Root

George Root III was an accomplished author, including The Caleb Devin Chronicles. He called the wilds of Western New York home, where actually enjoyed Western New York winters. He dabbled in non-fiction, but his passion was science fantasy, science fiction, and Godzilla. George died on March 7th, 2019.


Along with the stress and anxiety that come with cancer, one-way cancer can change your life is that the people you have known for years suddenly see you differently, and some even disappear. | ©psychoshadow / Adobe Stock