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Posted by Amie Fradkin on Friday, February 24, 2012 - 14:14 | Cancer Stories

Amie Fradkin is a 36-year old lawyer (non-practicing right now) who was diagnosed with Stage 4 Glioblastoma brain cancer in 2010. Here is her self-introduction:

After radiation and chemotherapy (still on for 5 days every 23 days), I decided that living life was more important than anything else.  I quit my job and have been travelling and enjoying everything, even the small and mundane things.  My plan is to 1) stay alive and 2) have fun! So far, I have been an A+ student in this school of ummm, post cancer diagnoses – lead a successful career and say bring on the fun!  Let’s go to Italy!  I also love my mini shih tzu, pink sparkles, hello killy, Charmed and Twin Peaks.  Oh!  And iced chai lattes with soy milk.  Like I said, the smaller things in life are what should be celebrated.

 

Cancer Card – Figurative or Literal. Does It Exist?

So I was diagnosed with stage four glioblastoma brain cancer in June 2010.  It was a shock, obviously, I am only 34 (then, now 36).  I don’t think I look like someone with brain cancer, whatever that is.  My friends have always said I was a little off in the brain, so maybe there was something to that.  But of course now I say I have a doctor’s note to be all wacky and “eccentric” as some people say.  Apparently, and I did not know this before, eccentric isn’t exactly a clear cut compliment.  Who knew!

So on the same line, I have always heard of a “cancer card”.  Never knew anyone that used it, at least I don’t think.  But guess what,  I AM!!!  Although I have used it, I am not sure if I have used it to its full capacity and I have some questions.

  1. Is it a real card?  I have talked with some friends and we have decided we should design one.  One that can be laminated.  Any graphic designer out there, contact me and we can talk. 
  2. Is there an expiration date?  Is it based on the “stage” you are in?  How “sexy” your cancer is? (not really sexy sexy but attractive to the public.  For example, I would say brain cancer is less sexy than breast cancer.  The whole world is fighting breast cancer from Susan Komen to Yoplait.  I am not taking anything away from breast cancer patients, but let’s be honest, how many commercials or campaigns have you seen for brain cancer. I rest my case).
  3. Is there anyplace where the cancer card should not be used?  Meaning, will it be declined?  And if it is declined, is it a reason to speak to a manager?
  4. Can you loan the card to someone who is cancer free?  I think that is answered in its question. No No No!

So I have answers to all of these questions.  I guess if I didn’t I would be really dumb to ask them in a blog format where no one is there to answer but me….

 

REAL CARD

I think it should be a real card.  I really do.  I think it is hard for some people to grasp that just because I may look super duper healthy, I have a piranha in my body and many times have toxins running through my veins that make me nutty.  So I want a card.  I want to be able to say, look, I am happier than a mini shih tzu on parade, I am still fighting a horrible disease that brings down tougher people that me.  I am not going to change looking fabulous   just to prove to someone that I may be tired and want to sleep all day.  So abracadabra – here is my cancer card!  Laminated and everything.  And mine would be pink with sparkles.

 

EXPIRATION DATE  

I was told by friends that I have a year card then it expires.  I say, phoeey.  I don’t think there should be an expiration date.  On the day that the doc can say to me you are cancer free and will be forever, my cancer card is valid and my “credit” is good.  The reality is for anyone that has any type of cancer, the thought of never being afraid it is going to come back is non-existent.  It is always in the back of your mind.  For me, for my type of cancer, the word remission is not ever spoken.  It is never gone.  I believe that it is dormant (knock on wood) but it is always the pink sparkly elephant in the room.  Therefore, my cancer card never expires.  It’s like a black American express card.  At least I think, the world knows I would never get one of those, although wouldn’t that be fun!

 

WHO TAKES THE CANCER CARD

I can honestly say that I have never pulled the card and it be denied.  (well creditors, but they are evil and have no soul).  I haven’t used it that much.  At least I don’t think I have.  You would have to ask my friends and family, but I think they will say, “oh Amie, you should use it more!”.  I can think of three instances where I have used it and it has worked like a charm!

  1. Airlines – I was flying to Spain with a friend and we couldn’t get seats together.  It is a long flight and I am not the calmest flyer.  So I went up to the counter, tried to look sick, cough, and said I was on chemo, had epilepsy and needed to sit next to my friend in case anything happened…. I felt a little guilty, until we got two seats together with no one sitting next to us and extra legroom.  Um hello, cancer rocks!
  2. Disneyland – So I got a pass with a friend.  For Southern Californians it is such a good deal.  You can go almost everyday and it’s pretty much free!  So there is a way to get a disabled pass.  I have to think it is made for someone in a wheelchair or who has narcolepsy and will fall asleep in line.  But I am impatient and so we marched our way to City Hall to play the “card”.  I was super nervous, I’m a little anxious as a rule.  I knew they couldn’t really ask what was wrong with me because of HIPPA but as soon as the Disney chick asked me why I spewed my whole life.  She knew about my foot surgery when I was 13, chemo, radiation, broken ankle, hangnail.  She looked at me like I was insane.  I think she gave me the pass to get me out of the area.  But who cares! Front of the line rocks!  Now I get it every time.  Still get super nervous, once I leave the City Hall, the nervousness pales in comparison to the stunned faces as a healthy looking boy and girl move to the front of every line, even Peter Pan!
  3. Police – I have only done this once… I swear.  I was driving with a friend to Kansas and it was 3 in the morning and we were going thru the millionth small town where the speed limit goes from 70 to 30 in a millisecond.  I only slowed to 45 I guess and the cop pulled me over.  Really???? We had been driving for 12 hours and now being pulled over?  So I pulled the card.  I said I was on a road trip because I had just been diagnosed with brain cancer and we were driving longer than I thought and I really wanted to get to our destination.  I had to take my chemo pills….I know, so evil.  BUT – no ticket!  Thank you cancer!

 

CAN YOU SHARE IT?

No No No.

 

So there is my take on the cancer card.  Next time someone you know who has cancer tries to use it, remember what they are going through and accept it.  It probably is based in some sort of reality and as I always say, who wants to say no to a cancer patient!

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