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Damn You, Cancer

Lissa Rankin's picture


You took my mother-in-law when I was in my twenties. Then you took my grandfather less than a year later. Then, as a doctor, I watched you take countless children, teenagers, young people, and old people. I’ve witnessed firsthand how ruthless you can be, how you love to prey upon the people who are most gentle and kind, the ones who aren’t fighters, the ones who resign to you and let you sweep them away like a rogue wave on a surfer’s beach. But you don’t stop there. No. You go after the fighters too, only you make them suffer more. You take them too -- only you take them kicking and screaming.

Either way, you’re vicious.

You don’t look back. Your only goal is to win. And way too often, you do.

You took my father when he was barely 60. You swept through him from diagnosis to death in three short months. And you never apologized for taking him from me only two weeks after my daughter was born, when my dog had just died and my brother was in the ICU in liver failure.

You took Dad’s best friend when she was way too young. You took Mom’s best friend when she was even younger. Because of you, I had a year I called my “Four Funerals and a Wedding” year.

My friend Kris Carr is fighting against you (and winning! Cancer, you sly beast- you'll never get her.  Keep your filthy hands off my friend.) But now you’re back at it, you evil troll. Last month, you struck my friend, a man my age with young children and a wife who’s not ready to lose him. Then on Mother’s Day, you lashed out at another friend, who has four young children. And today, I just found out you’re attacking another dear friend. Three strikes against friends in their forties in one month is pushing it, cancer. I’ve had it. I’m about to blow.

I melted down today, cancer.

Three times, including right before I was supposed to go on stage to give a talk. The echo of your voice whispered in my ear and said, “I’m gonna take her and there’s nothing you can do about it” -- and I want to scream. I want to grab you by the neck and thrash you around until you’re as lifeless as the victims you attack. I want to silence you. I want you to suffer the way you make them suffer. I want you to plead for mercy.

I don’t get angry very often, cancer. In fact, I should probably get angry more often. But this time, you’ve crossed the line, so I’m warning you.

I’m giving you two choices. I’ll ask you kindly to leave my people alone. Just turn around now and walk the other way, and no one else will get hurt.

But if you insist upon sticking around and blowing off bombs, you’ve been forewarned. I’m declaring war on you. And this time, I’m taking you down.

You’ve been warned, cancer. 

I suggest you go crawl into your little cave and leave the people I love alone. Cause I’ve had it with you. And your days are numbered.

Unless you get to me first. But I’m here to tell you that I’m a tough cookie, and I’ve got a tribe that will help me fight you like an army, so you’d best be going now, cancer. Take your filthy self away and leave my friends and family alone. You’ve done enough damage already. Tuck your tail between your legs and get the hell outta dodge before I really get pissed.

And here -- I’m throwing my tears like bullets at you, cancer. 

Damn you. Go to hell.

And please, if there’s any mercy in you at all, let my friends live. You’ve gotten in deep with all three of them. You’ve slipped into their blood streams and lymph systems. You’re taking over. But I beg you -- spare them. These are precious, special people. I love them. I can’t lose them now. Please. Please. Please go.

Praying you will leave and never come back,


Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of OwningPink.comPink Medicine Woman coach, motivational speaker, and author of What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend and Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax.



mohrle's picture

oh, lisa

i am hugging you at the moment very warmly and gentle in my mind, honey. the pain you are bearing is way too big for just one person to carry. there are no words to make it better, at least i don't have any. i am so sorry, darling. i am sending you love, light and blessings.

Lissa Rankin's picture

Strike against you, cancer

Mom, that's such good news about Lin! (How odd has my life gotten that I hear my aunt is doing better from my mother on my blog!) Good news indeed. And thank you all for your support and compassion.

Rachel A's picture

Hugs & Love...

Thank you for sharing this, Lissa... I'm sending hugs, love, & good thoughts out to all who are suffering due to cancer or other serious illnesses... My sister-in-law will be 34 next month and is now 15 months post bone marrow transplant (for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Philadelphia positive). She may not be following all of her doctors' direct orders but she is eating what feels good, exercising as much as feels good, cooking yummy healthy meals for her family, enjoying each day as it comes, and LOVING her kids, my brother, her relatives, and friends. She's doing a really amazing job of living in the present, letting go of what's past, & trying her best to experience the full range of emotions...
Have you read "The Emperor of All Maladies" (subtitled "A Biography of Cancer")? My sis-in-law read it in about 10 days and says she wishes everyone would read it... It's on my nightstand & I need to start it.
Prayers, love, & light to you and your friends who are in the midst of their fighting... Xoxoxoxo....

 Trish Rankin's picture


This post and comments were read through my dripping tears. I wonder what we are doing so wrong to have such abundant cancer in our lives and those around us. It was so rare when I was a child and so common now. We all have a list of those we've lost to this dreaded disease. I've written a book that is going to publishing this week, I think, on my husband's cancer journey that he called his God Adventure, bless his wonderful spirit. But he too lost that battle, cancer again won. It drains you of your energy, your life force, your appetite, your normalcy and finally even the strong succumb and give up, too tired to continue the long battle that ensues. But I will add good news to this post. My sister has been battling common bile duct and pancreatic cancer for two years. This week we heard that her cancer numbers are down from 21 to 11 and they don't know why. But praise God for all blessings. Will she win this battle? I can't say, but she sure is winning right now.

littlephoenix's picture


Many gentle hugs to you, Lissa.

Kait's picture

I am so sorry dear...

I'm sending lots of hugs and positive vibes your way. It isn't fair and I'm sorry for the pain and frustration and anger you are suffering. Your friends are so lucky to have you in their lives and I have no doubt you will not only help them BEAT THIS but also be there for them every step of the way to ensure they receive the best care and are taking care of themselves the best way possible. You'll hold their hands and their hearts and you'll lift them up when needed.

Everyday I work with onc pts I realize the true vitality and strength of the human spirit, and some of these people have minimal support systems. But they are fighting and we'll all keep fighting...

My thoughts are with you... <3 <3 <3

Beki's picture

What She Said

I hear you. When I was younger I lost my grandmother, a couple grandfathers, an aunt and a couple uncles to cancer. The last two years, I lost my father-in-law at age 60, my best friend who fought it for seven years before succumbing at age 37, and right this minute, my cousin who is only 26 is starting radiation for breast cancer, having just gone through surgery and chemo. It makes me so mad I can't see straight sometimes and the treatments are so terrifying to those of us who can do nothing but sit back and wait with the patient, seeing to their comforts and praying with every ounce of strength for a miracle.

I absolutely hear you.

Kittie's picture

Feel ya Sister!!!

Hey Lissa,
I know I could do a similar tirade against cancer since I lost my dad before 60 too, then lost your dad and only a year later I lost my amazing golden retriever...cancer can't even leave our pets alone!!! More recently my mom's cousin lost his battle after 9 years, but boy did he give it a strong battle before succumbing. He's my role model in more than one way for the way he decided to handle his diagnosis of 6 months to live...Ha, take that cancer cause cousin Paul got another 8 1/2 years along with about 2 more grandkids in that time. Cousin Paul decided that he could either live with cancer or die from cancer...he chose the first option. I think that's exactly what you must do is chose to live no matter how hard the battle may be. Sending you lots of love & prayers for your friends that need them!
Love ya,

Cheryl's picture

So true....I've had enough..

Thank you Lissa...
I agree, I am so tired of this taking my dear ones away. I lost my dad at 54, my mother in law 5 years ago and my father in law just last month...
Countless friends have been affected. I've had enough and just last week a very dear friend who had been cancer free for 7 years after surviving colon cancer just got the news that it is back...I refuse to lose her, we are going to fight with everything we can find...and why is it always the good ones? Why is it the ones we love the most?
Help me send positive energy to my dear friend as I will do for you and yours...
So appreciate your writings...thank you..

Karen's picture

Oh...as an Oncology RN I see

Oh...as an Oncology RN I see this all too often. I appreciate your stand and I honor your tears.
SG Karen

Jeanette's picture

Very moving post and so true.

Very moving post and so true. Thank you.

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