A Cancer Pity Party

Posted by & filed under Bob Riter's Cancer Columns.

Bob Riter

Bob Riter

A woman with cancer recently told me that she was planning a pity party.

She explained that, “Cancer just sucks and I want to get together with my friends to acknowledge that it sucks.”

Sounds reasonable.

Those of us with cancer tend to put on brave faces.

But there are times that we grieve for the losses that accompany every cancer diagnosis. Those losses can range from the disruption of our daily rhythms to impending death.

Why not have a party – or ritual – to recognize the impact that cancer has had?

Most grieving processes involve rituals. Some are to acknowledge the pain, and some are to say, “It’s time to move on.”

My friend’s pity party is designed to do both. She wants to express her sadness over losing the carefree life she had before cancer. By doing so, she’ll be better able to accept the life she has now.

Many people deal with similar issues through counseling and support groups. It’s often referred to as “adjusting to the new normal.” We all do it in our own way and on our own timetable.

But I think having a party is a splendid idea.

Bob Riter is the executive director of the Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes. A compilation of his columns, “When Your Life is Touched by Cancer” (2014, Hunter House Inc.), is widely available.