Cancer Related Pet Peeves

by Brian English

Pet peeves: we’ve all got them. Some of us have more than others. Maybe it’s the way your husband puts the toilet paper on the roller (the only right way is “over” – with the paper in front – by the way). Maybe it’s that your wife doesn’t screw the top on the milk all the way.


And you probably thought that once you were diagnosed with cancer, your focus on the “little things” would vanish; you likely figured that battling cancer would surely make any tiny annoyances seem silly. Which, of course, it does.

But what you didn’t realize is that fighting cancer is a marathon, not a sprint. And after the shock of the diagnosis wears off, and the long grind of treatments starts to become, like every-day life, mundane. And just like in every-day life, little things about life with cancer will start to annoy you, and you end up with a whole new list of pet peeves.

Cancer-related pet peeves run the gamut. Some are funny, some are serious. But everyone’s got ‘em.

“I don't have a shortcut on my pet peeves,” writes WhatNexter PaulineJ. “It’s everything to do with doctors in medical and dental, hospitals, pharmacy, drugs, prescriptions, and insurance … But this is the world we live in for now.”

Here’s just a smattering of some of the the WhatNext community’s top pet peeves. And trust us when we say, “this is just the beginning” – this collection barely scratches the surface.

Peeves About Dumb Things People Say To Cancer Patients

People Say The Craziest Things To Cancer Patients

“My pet peeve right now is the people who keep trying to reassure me that maybe I won't lose my hair,” writes BevLand. “’My aunt/friend/sister" had chemo and did not loose her hair.’ I know they are trying to comfort me but I am trying to come to terms with it and need to anticipate that I am in order to deal with it.”

Bug from the WhatNext Forums, writes that her sister talked her ear off during an hour-long phone call, spewing a litany of personal complaints. She then wrapped up by saying to her sister Bug – a breast cancer survivor, “And you think you have problems.” The fact that Bug was merely peeved by this speaks volumes about the lady’s capacity for calm and forgiveness.

For DoreenLouise, the peeve isn’t what other people say; it’s what her co-workers don’t want to hear. “That I am not allowed to talk about my cancer at work because it upsets my co-workers,” writes DoreenLouise. “There are 12 employees in the law firm. Only 2 people ever ask how I am doing, and only in private.”

Medical Peeves

Medical Records

When you’re in-and-out of hospitals more than the doctors and nurses, you get familiar with medical situations. And familiarity tends to breed contempt. Or, at least, pet peeves.

Being treated like a cog is gets GregP_WN ticked off. “I have gone to a lot of trouble before to get all my mountain of records sent to the new guy that would be following me for annual checkups,” he writes. “And then he walks into the room and wants to know 'have you had cancer? Oh, gee, what kind?’ READ THE DAMN CHART!”

Sometimes a patient’s peeve is actually an insightful critique of the state of cancer treatment. Cards7up who has lung cancer, writes that she hates “having to deal with those in the medical community that should have more info than me … and finding out they don't!”

Similarly, barryboomer finds that “many times, we the patient have to chose what to do. That is ridiculous.”

BoiseB’s complaints are those of a hardened vet of many hospital visits. “The chairs in the exam rooms and waiting rooms seem to come from a medieval torture chamber,” she writes. “And why do the exam rooms have to have those gross anatomy pictures in the office? Much worse, why do they have a picture of your scans running on the computer monitor right as you walk in?”

Peeves About Cancer Cliches

Cancer Cliches

“My pet peeve about cancer is the language of war used to describe it,” writes Anniekell. “The language and metaphors of war are antithetical to the energy of healing. I'm not a "warrior," I'm not "battling" anything, and I don't intend to "fight."

“’You look healthy, you don't look like you have cancer’” is something Whitey61 hears a lot. “Sometimes we get stereotyped as having to look yellow, thin, very sickly looking the final stages of disease for people to understand,” he writes. “But we are the very healthy-looking folks out there among you that are still living our life with this hidden monster.”

Peeves About the Cancer Life

Life With Cancer Sucks

Bottom line: being in treatment can suck. And that leads to peeves. Fashion1102’s peeves are “side effects from treatments and having to stay in the house like a prisoner! I want to be out & about and proud again!”

You’ve got a pet peeve about the world of cancer, right? Share yours on the WhatNext forums.

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