Day 10: Charity
In case you couldn’t tell from this blog, I cope by making jokes. Of the many pieces of tumor humor I’ve come up with this year, among my favorite is “playing the cancer card.” Playing the cancer means using the guilt people feel because you’re dealing with cancer and they’re not to manipulate them into doing things for you. Does this sound terrible? Yes, especially when I type it out like that. Have I actually used it for anything? Aside from guilting my friends to drive me to the train station or getting my parents to buy me food, not really.
As I’ve mentioned before and you’re probably aware anyway, cancer sucks, so much so that many people will go out of their way to help people dealing with it. By the end of this week at the Hope Lodge, we will have had not one, not two, not even three, but four separate groups come in to prepare food for us. Four. In our kitchen. Cooking food for me and my compatriots. As I watched these wide-eyed volunteers come in and do nice things for us, I couldn’t help but reminisce on my volunteering days in college and think, “Wow, Tom. You must’ve seemed like such a prick.”
Before you go thinking I’m an ungrateful bastard, let me qualify that last sentence. I think it’s great that people come here and want to help because – unlike me – there are some people here who legitimately cannot care for themselves and whose caretakers could use a night off. Some of the groups bring fun games, like Bingo, and most people here have a great time. What I’m trying to talk about here is that this was a weird experience before. Aside from staying at the Hope Lodge, I don’t think I’ve ever accepted charity from strangers. I’m usually good about keeping my pride in check, but tonight I felt some sick, twisted urges rising up in me. I wanted to walk up to those glinting-smiled volunteers and shout, “Really, guy? I’m here, for cancer, and you bring spaghetti? Fucking spaghetti!?”
Now, did I say that horrible, defensively dickish comment? No, of course not. And did I eat the spaghetti and meatball meal provided by these benevolent strangers? You bet that dude’s freshly parmesan-ed face I did. And I got seconds. Like I said, I know how to keep my pride in check. I really hope I’m not taking anything away from the generosity given by strangers this week. Everyone here – including me – really appreciated the nice little treats along with the break from routine. All I’m trying to get at is accepting charity made me feel weird. And as many helpings of pasta as I had, it’s not something that I ever want to be a regular part of my life.
Eight treatments down, twenty-seven to go!