Cancer, Facebook, and Harley Quinn’s Ass

Dear Facebook Love Your Spouse Challenge,

It’s not you; it’s me. Typically happy to over-share and post flattering photos of my beloved and me holding cocktails on decks and beaches, I’m not going to do this competitively. Like many, I am exhausted of arguments that we can’t do anything if it alienates, triggers, ignores, belittles, or otherwise doesn’t include everyone on the planet. But your recent “challenge” made me mindful of how my newly widowed, freshly divorced, or not perennially-euphoric-about-her-spouse friend might dry heave at seven separate updates of Bernie and me being, well, Bernie and Me. Also, if you’ve ever read EMB (now B&B), the early years are more a tribute to my husband than Suicide Squad is a 2-hour homage to Margot Robbie’s ass.

I realize I just compared Bernie to a perfect posterior. And though he’ll appreciate that, it’s probably not what your Challenges intend us to do. Seven days of Prove You Love Your Spouse means posting pictures holding Solo cups in dorm rooms, cutting the wedding cake, blissfully unflattering moments with the first baby, and then finally the whole family at the beach/on the boat/in front of the Eiffel Tower. I don’t have any of these (where I look fantastic). So forgive me if I don’t play.

Truth be told, I avoid anything that smacks of audience participation. I ignored the Ice Bucket Challenge. I have zero interest in riding a bike from P-town to kingdom come– even in the name of Cancer. I won’t come up on stage or whoo hoo. I will raise one limp arm for The Wave. When asked to high five my neighbor in spin class, I’ll give an enthusiastic slap… but secretly I’m irritated to be pulled into her endorphin moment and peer pressured to touch her gross, sweaty hand.

It’s not you. It’s me. I’m outwardly sunny, inwardly a little bit awful. Recently, a beautiful friend who I honestly enjoy introduced me as “the nicest mean person I know.” And I started wondering when that happened. Thing is, Facebook, Cancer made me kind of a jerk. Touched with scary disease at a young-ish age, I was launched prematurely into that personality given to older, barely-tolerating-you characters (Dowager Countess, Emily Gilmore, most of the cast of Steel Magnolias). Breast cancer knows no “remission” and so there is a might-be-dead-next-year slogan stamped in the darkest parts of my psyche no matter how favorable my five-year statistics. So I do not pretend to like or join in or ride or run or care if I don’t.


A sweet neighbor keeps offering up inventive ideas for Family Fun. My consistent answer: “That sounds tiring.” Others might promise to visit that lighthouse, take that cooking class, or brave that water park teeming with Pseudomonas, even if they never would. But like the Dowager, I won’t feign enthusiasm for their exhausting activities for entertainment and betterment. The Olympics are on! And someone needs to hold down this couch.

And so, Facebook, when you playfully challenge me to Prove My Love for My Husband, my answer is, “Nope.” I wonder if other Cancer victims have adopted this gave-at-the-office sort of approach to peer pressured pursuits, no matter how silly or innocuous or feel-good they might be. And I honestly adore seeing Kodak moments of the people I love as they post seven days of lovey doviness. But my inner Cancer bitch (is this a thing?) prefers me on the sidelines, even if a teeny part of me knows that if I enter any Love Your Spouse Challenge… I. WILL. WIN. Because it’s Bernie, a husband lovelier than Margot Robbie’s butt.


They’re probably asking her if she does SoulCycle…



11 responses

  1. Bravo. My inner bitter self at my personal medical hurdles applauds you. Thank you for expressing what so many of us certainly feel on a regular basis. But may I say, may dear friend, considering how respected persons like the Dowager Countess are, it is with Great Honor to be included amongst those with a talent for the sugar-coated reality check! Keep doing what you’re doing. It’s all good.

    • Thanks, Tina. It’s not just the Cancer thing. It’s any life threatening illness, or even staring down life at its end, as my dear friend Joe was doing. My Inner Cancer Bitch enjoys blogging, but I keep her in check out in Nature. And honestly, I do love people. I just don’t want to whoo hoo or high five them. xoxo

  2. Thankfully, I can’t blame cancer, but I share your “God Bless Them, but no thanks” attitude toward most – if not all – of these Hallmark card-like challenges. For a split second each time I worry that I probably look like an ass to someone for not participating. In this case, it appears as though I am declining to proudly and publicly display the love and affection I have for my wife. But she already knows it – I pee sitting down. I miss you and hope to see you next summer when we come to Boston!

  3. Bravo dear cous.
    I too declined the last two challenges – felt FB was creating more traffic at the cost of spontaneity. But must say your resistance was a richer and more heartfelt push back. Yes, please keep writing. We adore your candor. We celebrate you are here. Every. Day. ❤️

  4. Pingback: Weekly Round Up | Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer

  5. Yup, me too. Although mostly sunny on the outside a part of me has changed on the inside. I need to keep my expectations manageable… life simple… continue to work on taking the pressure off of myself in order for my world to have joy. I don’t know what it’s like to have the “might be dead next year” cancer, but the joy of life that used to burst out of me now requires a tune up every day. And to be honest, I don’t think I ever could have posted seven days of photos or done the ALS challenge. I may be a cheerleader, but there are some things I can only watch others enjoy. And I, like Jim, fear that I am being labeled a jerk for all the un-participation.

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