Just stop saying it

Linnea Olson at Outliving Lung Cancer wrote an interesting post called Just Not a Just World.  This is a comment on her post.

As a fellow LC patient/client/mutant/whatever we call ourselves, I follow your blog and have learned enough about you through your blog to know that what you write is thoughtful and heartfelt. Your intelligence, indomitable spirit and optimism shine through and are  inspiration to your many readers.

However, with this post, you’ve scraped up against what has lately become a raw nerve with me since I got handed this bag of snakes and shoved down the road called cancer.  And that is this let-me-make-sure-you-know-I-never-smoked clause that sneaks its way into  almost everything I’ve read by a “never-smoker” with lung cancer.

I applaud your intent in this post. Really, I do. And I get where you’re going, but your message would have rung truer with me had you not found it necessary to mention that “never ever touched a cigarette.”

I don’t care whether you smoked or not.  Your insistence that I know you never smoked feels more like a thinly veiled device to separate yourself from those people who did smoke and got what they deserved with lung cancer, rather than as an illustration of the arbitrary nature of life, which was the theme of your post (shit happens).

Had you analogized, “I’ve never been exposed to radon, so why me?” to support your theme, it would have been just as effective.

Whenever a writer or speaker decries the stigma around smoking and lung cancer, but still has a need to let you know that he or she never smoked, I’m fairly certain that person still has a way to go to rid his or her own psyche of the stigma.

It lingers in everything we read about lung cancer, And it will never go away until we just stop making it a part of the conversation.

Note to readers:  There are many other cancers and fatal diseases are associated with smoking.

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