People Assume You Did Something To Deserve It
Christina hasn't felt censured for being brutally honest about her cancer, probably because there's an entirely different awareness culture at play. "I think lung cancer colors are white and clear -- way less cute and marketable," she says (and harder to sexualize). What she does get are people assuming she deserves it.
"Whenever someone finds out I have Stage IV lung cancer, one of the very first questions they ask is if I was or am a smoker," as if they're "trying to do some detective work to see if I brought this disease on myself ... Everyone is always shocked to learn that I've never touched a cigarette, the hardest drugs I'd done was ibuprofen, and I didn't even have my first alcoholic drink until I was 21."
"Wait, you didn't have sex before marriage, did you?"
In fact, as many as 20 percent of lung cancer patients are nonsmokers, but regardless, maybe the first thing you do when someone tells you they're dying shouldn't be to turn into Captain Hindsight. "That's what you get for letting your 14-year-old self get hooked on one of the most addictive substances known to mankind! Now let me finish my breakfast of tequila and chicken wings in peace."
Breast cancer patients aren't immune to this either, as many of the risk factors -- which include drinking, being overweight, and not having children -- are frowned upon by certain parts of society. But Jo Evelyn can count off a number of teetotaling, upbeat, vegan friends she lost to cancer. Meanwhile, "I smoke a pack of cigarettes a day," she says. "I drink on occasion, I drink two liters of Coke a day, and I'm still here five years later. Riddle me that."
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