Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Cancer Card

A cancer diagnosis can be like a "get out of jail free card" in the Monopoly game of life. Play your card right, and you can use it to get out of tiresome social engagements, home chores, professional responsibilities and even the death grip of telemarketers. Like American Express, the card is universally recognized and accepted.

The sad irony among card-carrying members of the cancer set, however, is that we don't like to flash our cards. In at attempt to maintain a level of "normalcy" in our lives, we would rather attend the cousin's boyfriend's concert, unload the dish washer, or, God forbid, talk to a telemarketer than admit that cancer is taking us off course. Especially when it comes to professional responsibilities, I know that many cancer patients live in fear that their work will be dismissed or diminished because of their diagnosis.

Don't get me wrong. It's not that we don't want to use the card; we just don't want to abuse it.

Two weeks ago, I finally encountered a situation that I thought merited use of my exclusive Cancer Card. As many of you know, I love a good coupon, especially when it's $6 off for a much-needed dog grooming. While at Hotel Hope, I realized that my coupon for grooming at Steve's Pets had expired.

No problem, I thought; I can use my Cancer Card for personal gain. I called the groomers and explained that I was an in-patient at City of Hope when the coupon expired and requested that they extend the special offer for just two more days so that I could take advantage. If you live in the San Gabriel Valley, dropping the name "City of Hope" is as good as saying, "I have CANCER." I figured that being an in-patient made me an even more sympathetic customer.

To my surprise, the owner impatiently reminded me, "We sent out that coupon on February 16. You've had plenty of time to redeem it." And then she hung up on me.

Cancer Card: Denied.

I guess I'll just have to pay full price for grooming like all the other non-Cancer Card carrying dog owners in Altadena. But there's still hope for slipping out of the grips of the telemarketer.


Paula Johnson said...

Count on me to play the cancer card for you! These are phrases I plan to use in the months ahead:

- My friend here has CANCER and isn't supposed to pay retail. What can you do for her?

- Can you give my friend extra chips with her taco plate? She has CANCER and we're trying to keep her weight up. Maybe extra shrimp, too, to insure her recovery?

- Can I park in the fire lane? I'm picking up my friend who has CANCER from her extreme kickboxing class, and don't want her to have to walk across the whole parking lot.

-No, Officer, I was not speeding, I was compressing my travel time to pick up my friend who has CANCER from the City of Hope.

Susan Carrier said...

Ooh - I especially like the idea of using the Cancer Card to get extra shrimp at the Taco Spot!