A Tale of Two C-Words

by Bill Brenner on July 12, 2012

I’ve always hated the C-word. I’m from Revere, Mass., and I can cuss with the best of ’em. But that word has always crossed a line for me. I don’t even like it when someone throws it out there with the “see you next Tuesday” innuendo. I also hate the other C-word: cancer. This is a post about both.

Mood music:

The latter C-word is the one everyone fears. I’ve known many cancer patients, especially those with breast cancer. I know a lot of women who beat it. I know people who are battling it right now, including a family member. And I’ve known women who put up a good fight but lost in the end.

I have a ton of respect for people who talk openly about their diseases. There’s my friend Penny Richards, who wrote a book about her experience called My Breast Cancer Sally. There’s my father-in-law’s mom, who suffers from¬†Alzheimer’s disease today but beat uterine cancer decades ago. There’s an aunt who’s going through chemo right now.

And there’s Xeni Jardin, founding partner and co-editor of the award-winning blog Boing Boing. Jardin has been chronicling her cancer fight daily on as @xeni, and I’ve come to admire her for it.

Lately, some jackasses have been calling her names on Twitter, including that other C-word. It seems they don’t want to hear about every nasty detail of her breast cancer battle. Yesterday she called a few of them out, posting this:

Jardin Tweets

I don’t know what makes people like this spout off the way they do. Maybe they’re lonely, depressed and plagued by a variety of insecurities. Everyone has a story of pain that shapes the people they become.

Some tell their story with grace, unflinchingly sharing every embarrassing detail so that a few people might be educated in case they have to go through the same thing someday. That’s what my friend Penny did, and that’s what Jardin is doing now.

My aunt uses a lot of humor to share her experience on Facebook. She’s always been tough and strong, with a biting sense of humor. That’s what’s going to get her through this. And by sharing some of it online, a few people might learn something.

There’s courage in the face of adversity, as these women demonstrate. And then there are those assclowns who stare at adversity, get scared and try to make themselves feel better by tweeting obscenities at people who don’t deserve it.

In high school, I was bullied, and in turn, to make myself feel better, I bullied kids who were weaker than me. I’m still ashamed about that and have made amends with some of them. Experiencing bullying as the victim and abuser has given me a decent ability to spot weaklings. People who use Twitter to tear into other people are pretty fucking weak. I hope these guys see the light and become better people later on.

For now, I’ll just leave them with this message from Jardin:

Jardin's answer

Stay classy, folks.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Neil Andrew DuPaul July 12, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Nice post Bill, genuinely enjoyable read and obviously great of you to speak up in support of these courageous ladies.

Lorrie R. July 13, 2012 at 6:03 am

People can be so mean. Being Nice Matters! Thanks for your blog, I especially love the ending.
Be well!

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