Many of us have heard the expression "playing the cancer card"... Sometimes good, sometimes bad, playing the cancer card refers to when somebody uses their cancer diagnosis as the reason or justification for a particular action. I remember the very first time that I played the card!
I was something like a week past my diagnosis. I had decided that I needed an extra care provider and drove on down to Citizens for Animal Protection with the intent of adopting a kitten. It did not take long to find one. A gorgeous and engaging brown tabby boy grabbed my attention. It did not take long for me to make the decision to adopt... So I sidled up to the adoption agent and asked to start the process. She immediately whipped out a giant stack of forms and then began enumerating all the things that would have to be done before I could adopt.
"M'am, I appreciate the diligence. I have already adopted here, before. I've already filled out all that paperwork, and I am already in your system!" This was all said with the kitten perched on my shoulder like a parrot.
"We have rules, sir. The forms have to be filled out every time and we have to check all the boxes, which include verifying the nature of the new home and the others who live there..."
That's when I slowly looked around the place and noticed that a lot of folks were eavesdropping on the engagement. It was time for me to play my first cancer card. I raised my voice just a bit "Look, M'am... I get that you are being thorough. I am an already known quantity here. I will get the kitten fixed. I can promise you that this little guy will have the absolute best home a cat could ever hope for. He will be pampered and loved by everyone in the home. More importantly, his name will be Leuk. That's short for leukemia. Which is what I have very recently been diagnosed with. Leuk has volunteered to be my caregiver and I'd like to make that happen. Now, if possible." You could have heard a pin drop. Everyone was sideways looking at us to see what would happen. And the lady knew that she had some choices to make.
She quietly asked for my driver's license and then started banging away on her keyboard. She printed some stuff out, I signed some documents, I paid some money, and I went home with Leuk. That was 13 years ago. Leuk only made it to 10 and I miss him terribly. He got huge and wasn't very bright. But he was loving and comforting and he took care of me.
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