How’re you doing?

In thinking yesterday about my writing, I came to realize how it’s changed over the recent months.  Whereas onceuponatime the blog was simply a means to keep people up to date about my goings-on (actually, it was first simply an email list), it’s morphed into something somewhat weightier.

A couple of reasons come to mind.

First, older posts seem to have focused on the process of what was happening.  What did I do? What was the experience like? What funny anecdotes resulted from the hijinks?  Given that things have been somewhat de rigueur since my last surgery a couple of summers ago, simply posting entries about what happened at chemo seems kind of boring.  It’s hardly the stuff of which ongoing good (or useful?) reading is made.

The other reason is borne of the recognition that having something to say, even if to a small group such as you who regularly read what I post, is somewhat of a responsibility.  I have no illusions that thousands of people read what I write.  I know that not to be true.  Rather, if you are going to invite me into your email inbox or Facebook feed, should I not at least try to have “something” to say?

In our age of constant and instant communication, where everyone is a journalist, pundit and expert on everything, anyone can publish anything he wants.  Is there anything more annoying and offensive than someone mouthing off just because he can?


 People often ask how they can help.  I recognize that sometimes it’s difficult to “instinctively” know what to do, so here are some suggestions:

Read this blog.  Granted, it’s not as newsy as it once was, but it will give you insight into how I’m feeling, or what I’m thinking.  It’s safe to say that I think about cancer every moment of every day.  But I mean, in addition to that.  There are so many facets and angles.  So, if you’ve bothered to subscribe, take the five minutes to read.

Think about what you want to say or ask.  Understand there is no real discussion about cure or remission.  Rather, we talk about managing pain, discomfort and sleeplessness on a daily (and nightly) basis.  Most days can’t even be summed up as being “good” or “bad.”  Rather, the morning may have been fine, but the late afternoon and evening may have required more pain meds than usual.  By all means, ask me how I’m doing, but understand that the answer is more complicated than a single word.

That said, don’t be afraid to ask! If I don’t want to tell you, I’ll let you know.  Usually, though, I absolutely LOVE talking with people who are genuinely interested in what’s going on and how I’m doing. It helps me process.  Last week I had lunch with a friend who expressed surprise at how forthcoming and honest I was about my cancer and how we are working at managing it.  Why not? It doesn’t make me uncomfortable and, if you’re asking, I assume you want to know.

By the way, none of this is meant to chastise anyone.  It’s simply what I’m thinking about right now,  and I thought that might be useful.


About Alan

F---ing Cancer since 2011.
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16 Responses to How’re you doing?

  1. susanempr says:

    just love that you express yourself – however you want to do it – i want to hear it. Sitting in new city, having a coffee and toasting your awesomeness.

  2. Beth Selter says:

    Thanks for sharing with us-and educating us. We follow your blog, think of you & your wonderful family all the time but frankly have never known what words to say. We’ve been inspired by your posts, your outlook & your musings. keep writing. It’s comforting & makes us all feel a bit less vulnerable.

    • Alan says:

      Thanks, Beth. I know it’s hard to know what to say, but sometimes just a simple and honest inquiry is all that’s needed. But I get it. Totally.

      Keep an eye on my boy this summer!

  3. yehuda mermelstein says:

    Alan, keep it coming, I never know how to respond, but I know that you are ok with that. You and your family are in our thoughts…


  4. Carol Joseph says:

    Hi after my second cup of coffee Just read your blog and my comment is: GOOD FOR YOU for laying it out there. I’m very proud of you . Not everyone has the guts to articulate this.

    Love you, Auntie

  5. Ari from the Hills of Wesley says:

    It’s interesting how mindlessly some of us ask (and answer) relative strangers “how are you?” by not taking the question seriously. And that’s just fine when it’s the customer service rep and we only have 10 seconds of deep, spiritual connection ; ) But for friends — yeah, I really want to know what’s going on. And so thank you for saying whatever is on your mind. How….refreshing. Oh, and I don’t care whether it’s play by play about medical minutae or navel gaving (get rid of that lint, by the way) Here’s a funny little clip about that surprisingly tricky question of “how are you?”

  6. jaya says:

    hard to stomach it sometimes though

  7. robin says:

    Missing you and Tammy! I’m looking forward to some selfies with Andrew this summer lol
    Always hoping for a surprise visit from you.
    Thank you for your blog.

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