Playing The Cancer Card

My card…

Having cancer is like having a “get out of jail free” card.

My sister Lib and I were antiquing when we came upon a nifty, old copper-lined heat lamp.  The way Lib tells it, SHE saw it first and called me over to admire her intended purchase.  She says I then tried to hustle it out from under her nose.

I remember this differently.

I dug through heaps of junk to unearth the lamp and wanted to share my excitement with my dear sister. As I waxed enthusiastic about my plans to convert it to a light, Lib visibly wilted, leaning against a wall.  She adopted a wistful expression and said, in a faint voice “Boy, wouldn’t that look nice in my apartment.  I could gaze  upon it while I’m lying on the couch, too weak to do anything else because, after all, I have cancer.”  A feeble little cough followed.

Guess who ended up with the lamp.

This isn’t the first time this has happened.  I couldn’t help myself.  I blurted out, “You know, Lib, as often as you play the cancer card, you should have some made up.”

I wondered if, perhaps, I had gone too far.  Some might be offended.  Not my sister.  Lib immediately abandoned the wilting flower performance.  She pantomimed smartly whipping a card out of her pocket, presented it to me and said in a cheesy salesman manner, “My card”.

Near as I can tell, there aren’t a lot of benefits to having cancer.  The one thing you’ve got going for you is the sympathy factor.  You’d be a fool not to exploit it.   It occurred to us that playing the cancer card would be a lot easier with an actual deck of cards.  Eureka!

Announcing, the Playing The Cancer Card deck by Peg-Co.

The cards will be printed on one side with “Because I have cancer.”  The other side will list various things you want to get, or get out of doing.  Only the most callused, heart-hearted Scrooge could deny you when you present them with a card asking to:

  • Get out of a ticket
  • Get to talk about yourself all the time
  • Get out of work
  • Get to the front of the line
  • Get to stroll into work late and leave early
  • Get waited on hand and foot
  • Get to cut in traffic
  • Get to forget birthdays, anniversaries and any other gift-giving occasions

We are still in the development stage, so suggestions are welcome.

Here’s how it would work.  Let’s say you are late for your session at the Jamaica Tanning Salon, so you’ve got the pedal to the metal.  You’re doing 60 in a 30 zone and the police pull you over.  If you happen to be bald from chemo, quickly remove your head covering while the officer is running your plates.  If you’re not bald, stuff your hair up under the all-purpose bandana you keep in the glove box for just such an emergency.  This implies baldness.

When he approaches your window and asks for your license and registration, smile wanly and present the documents with your “Because I have cancer – Get out of a ticket” card prominently displayed on top.

Say, “I’m sorry, officer.  I normally never exceed the posted speed limit.  It’s just that I am late for ___________”.  Mention a life-saving cancer treatment.  It is probably best to stick with something like chemo, though, and not mention medical marijuana (which they just so happen to sell at the Jamaica Smoke Shop next to the tanning place.)  He’d have to be one cold dude to give you that ticket.

What if you’re using your Playing The Cancer Card deck and the recipient turns out to have a deck herself?  Let’s say you’re in line at the grocery store, and present your “get to the front of the line” card to the person ahead of you.  She whips off her wig to reveal her equally bald head, and shows her own card.  It would seem to be a sympathy stalemate.

Lib came up with a workable solution for that.  She suggests a tiebreaker protocol based on a hierarchy of cancers.  Not surprisingly, she figures a brain tumor trumps just about any other kind and propels her to the front of the line.

This would be like a fun game of Rock, Paper, Scissors based on life-threatening illness!

Let’s face it.  In life, we all have to play the hand we’re dealt.  Soon, cancer patients will be able to play that hand with their own, Playing The Cancer Card deck.  (To be offered at a low, low introductory price, plus shipping and handling.)

ps.  Lib just finished her second round of chemo and is feeling fine.  Thanks for your continuing kind thoughts and prayers.

About pegoleg

R-A-M-B-L-I-N-G-S, Ram...Blin!
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41 Responses to Playing The Cancer Card

  1. notquiteold says:

    Thanks! Someone I love very much was just diagnosed, and despite all the kind sympathy, I think a dose of refreshingly honest humor was just what I needed.


  2. What a way to manage Cancer. I do so admire you. Well done and our thoughts and prayers are with you always


  3. Jane says:

    Great idea!


  4. bigsheepcommunications says:

    Yet another genius marketing idea!


  5. Jackie says:

    Peg, I don’t know if you got to check out this Freshly Pressed post from a fella struggling with Cancer (though recent posts show it’s in remission – he took a vote on his blog and decided to go to chemo to reduce chances of an encore). But the way you lightheartedly address it reminds me of his blog. 🙂


  6. Big Al says:

    My goodness, pegoleg, ever the entrepreneur! I see this taking off in leaps and bounds. You can start selling those flesh colored rubber pullovers that make you look bald along with a deck of cancer cards. Wait, once this catches on, there will be more people than ever in front of me in line. Please rush my order, next day delivery. Price is no object!

    Give my best wishes to your sister, not just for her treatments but also for having to “deal” with you.


  7. charleen says:

    When I ended up with an 11 1/2 pound tumor, we dubbed it my “alien baby” and began a contest among my friends for who could pick the best name for it before it was removed. Some of my friends were really offended, and I “lost touch” with a few people over it. I figured if I didn’t laugh at it, I would never stop crying, so I don’t miss those folks too much.
    My brother won the alien baby name contest, by the way; he dubbed it “Fox Boulder” in deference to my love of the X-Files.


    • pegoleg says:

      This is great, Charleen! My cousin, Moe, said she and a friend kept repeating Arnold’s line in Kindergarten Cop “it’s not a tumor” in his Austrian accent to crack themselves up when she was going through treatment.

      I think those of us not dealing with cancer personally need to take our cues from our loves ones.


  8. Lib could hand out the cards at the Family Weigh-Ins also. She and all of you who support her so superbly continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.


  9. You know, if you support her with this card-playing, she’ll totally kick your ass in the Family Weigh-Ins. I thought we talked about this. Did that handicap ever get developed? Seriously, though… congrats to her on doing well with her treatment, to you for finding the lamp that, once she recovers, you can guilt her for stealing from you with her Cancer Card, and to the whole family for handling such a frightening thing so well.


    • pegoleg says:

      Well, there may be some truth to her assertion that she found the lamp first, but still, I thought she should have given it up to me since I admired it so much. I think some cultures have that custom, and she should adopt it. I’m going to kick her butt on the family weight loss challenge anyway, so I can be big about this. Thanks!


  10. Margie says:

    My youngest child had cancer when she was 16. When she was finally in remission, we took the family to Disney World. I thought she was going to be our ticket to the front of every lineup. Of course, she was still a contrary teen, and refused to play the cancer card. So my suggestion for your Cancer Cards is at least one card that gets the mother of the cancer patient one free “move to the front of the line”…


    • pegoleg says:

      Dang! If there’s anywhere that the cancer card would come in handy, it would be Disney World. What was she thinking, going all noble? I’ll add your suggestion to the list.


  11. sukanya says:

    they always say humor is the best medicine….and in your case, having your sister as the ‘partner in crime’, makes it even better.
    Glad she is in remission. My close friend recently got diagnosed with an aggressive for of cancer. she just had her first round of chemo-which was rather brutal. i am praying she goes into remission like your sister.


    • pegoleg says:

      I’m sorry to hear about your friend, and hope her treatment, even if brutal, is effective. Lib isn’t in remission, it’s just that her doctors feel that chemo is the best way to shrink the tumor. I know it will work!


  12. Great post. You’ve got to turn the tables on being a victim! Use what you’ve got to get where you want to be, right?

    The card can be used to have someone else walk the dog on icky-weather days, make meals, do dishes, give you complementary tickets to a show…the list is endless!


  13. Deborah the Closet Monster says:

    I love this! There is so much sadness and helplessness around cancer, it’s important to find what bits of brightness can be found . . . or created.

    I’m so glad to hear Lib’s doing fine. I hope that remains the word for a long, long time to come!


    • pegoleg says:

      I don’t know if I would be quite so light-hearted around someone who was terminally ill, but you’re right – we’ve got to find or make some brightness in the scary world of illness.


      • Deborah the Closet Monster says:

        My only experience at this point was with my mom, who enjoyed a joke or two. I also found respite in the occasional joke–although most of mine were poked at Smallville, with love simultaneously for the comfort it (somehow) brought her, instead of cancer itself.


  14. Evie Garone says:

    pegoleg…OMG….I had breast cancer about 2 years ago and let me tell you I used the cancer card ALL the time, it was what helped keep me sane at times!! My family and I thought it was hilarious as did my friends . . . whenever, as your sister did in that situation, I wanted my way, I am and was always a little spoiled, I hate to admit, I would make a “C” with my fingers and pout and my peeps would know what I meant! Ha, ha, ha!! Good for your sister! We even used the hat off trick to get a better deal at the car dealership, it happened to be time for me to turn my car in for a renew on my lease and it worked. Hey, when life hands you lemons, make lemonade! Good luck with Lib’s future . . . I’ll pray and send positive healing thoughts!! Great post!!!


  15. Terrasidius says:

    lol, thanks for that, cheered me up. I hope your sister gets better soon. 🙂 x


  16. Libertarian says:

    I want to officially pipe in that I found the copper heater wayyyyy before Peg noticed it… in fact, I showed it to her to get her opinion, then she tried to pull the big sister card to steal it away from me!! Peg’s writing always makes the family laugh, and this blog is no different! Fortunately, my cancer is at a stage where we’re still laughing. Hoping the Lord will always make that so with me, and with all who have cancer! God bless, everyone!


    • pegoleg says:

      It is possible there is a tiny grain of merit in your version of events. But I don’t think you were really commited to the lamp until I gushed about it.

      Hoping and praying you stay well. God bless us, everyone, Tiny Lib!


  17. Libertarian says:

    I have to say, I think the Queen of Hearts in your picture bares a strong resemblance to Jane Curtain’s Conehead!! And what’s that funny-looking weed she’s holding in her hand?? Could it be related to that illegal medical substance known as Mary Jane??


    • pegoleg says:

      Not illegal in Michigan if you have a doctor’s prescription because you have, say, cancer. Can we say money-making opportunity here?


      • Tar-Buns says:

        Medical marijuana was voted for by the people of Michigan, yet our elected and appointed representatives are legislating that away, raiding and closing the shops registered to grow and provide the product. Pisses me off. The people voted it in and still big brother is sure they know better than joe q. public.


  18. joannie says:

    i’ve had cancer – all clear now – and I wouldn’t dare to play that card anymore, but I know there are people who I would love to give a deck to. The kind of people who keeeep right on playing that card loooong after it is relevant. It is a beef I have. When you are free and clear and have been for years, then it is time to pass the deck to those who need it.


    • pegoleg says:

      Thanks so much for stopping by, and I’m glad you are all clear now. Sounds like you really want to deck those people who milk their illness for all it’s worth.
      I knew someone who went through cancer, which was a terrible thing, but her husband confided she was happy as a clam by the diagnosis since she was a closet pain=pill addict and now she had a legitimate excuse to get prescriptions.
      I am thinking of coming up with an actual deck of cards – any situations you would have used it for when you were going through treatment?


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  20. Peg, this is a wonderful column! One of our authors would like to include your cancer card in her upcoming breast cancer memoir. We would of course give you full credit in the caption and on the copyright page. Can you let me know if that is okay with you? I tried to find an email but had no luck. I’d be happy to provide more information by email.
    All my best.


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