Hard Cancer Truths: A Letter to Cancer Fighters and Caretakers

Jon Acton
8 min readNov 24, 2021
Some Angels have hidden wings. One of my Angels, the amazing Oncologis, Dr. Ruemu E. Birhiray

Letter to Cancer Fighters and Caretakers

Hello fellow Cancer Fighters. Hello Cancer Caretakers. If you are reading this, either you or someone you know is attending a cancer party they never wanted to attend, let alone be invited. I have been partying for a while now. Not nearly as long as some, but longer than others. I’ve learned a few things along the way; mostly by trial and error. This is a party that will be filled with highs and lows and some unique party favors (ports, IV’s, shots, blood draws, scans, prods, pokes and bills…lots of bills). Well, maybe it will be more like mediums and lows rather than highs now that I think about it. For those relatively new to the party I will share some thoughts, possible suggestions and maybe a smile or two. For those seasoned cancer partiers you will probably do some head nodding as some experiences may sound all too familiar. So, whether today is your first day at the cancer party or you are a veteran VIP, let’s get this party started with some good old fashioned truth bombs.

It is ok to feel all the feels; sad, angry, confused, overwhelmed and scared. You will travel between hope and hopelessness, sometimes on the same day. For some it may happen almost every day. Try to live somewhere in the middle. You will be tired. You will not feel well. You will take out your feels and frustrations on people trying to help you. Your caretakers will be tired, frustrated and won’t feel well trying to care for you, your family and themselves last. Remember this isn’t all about you. Apologize when you are a jackwagon, and you will be a jackwagon at some point.

You will live a dual existence thankful and appreciative for good intentions and the urge to scream profanities at the top of your lungs. Prepare for messages like “You’ve got this”, “Keep Fighting” and “Thoughts and Prayers.” Get used to emojis! Lots and lots of emojis like, prayer hands, fist bumps, arm flexes and smiley faces. Be thankful people are thinking of you. Those messages will become less frequent over time and I promise you will miss receiving them. Smile and say thank you to everyone.

People will share stories on how they knew someone with some kind of cancer who recently passed away. You won’t be sure how to respond to those peppy death…

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Jon Acton

Husband, Father, Former School Superintendent, National Blue Ribbon School Principal, Teacher, Coach, Author in progress