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Main > Cancer Links > Planet Cancer
—Robin Blue, Paul Cox and Heidi Schultz Adams (Dallas, Texas, 1995)
When Robin, Paul and I wrote that welcome paragraph, all of us were in our twenties; either in the midst of or barely out of treatment for cancer. Not only had we endured the incredible indignity of a cancer diagnosis in what should have been the best years of our health, we had also all suffered from an immense void in services and support for cancer patients our age. The majority of the other patients we encountered were separated from us by mental, emotional and physical lifetimes. As young adults with cancer, we felt that we had fallen through the cracks, and we wanted to reach out to others having the same experience.
The fact that the three of us had come together at all was quite an accomplishment, given the fact that the young cancer patient population is relatively small and geographically spread out. We would never have found each other without the efforts of Linda, a dedicated nurse who realized that we needed each other. We needed to talk to others who could relate to the problems of moving back in with parents. Others who could understand the difficulties of dating with cancer. With each other, we didn't have to talk around cancer. We waded right in and said exactly what we felt and thought about important things, like living, dying, and how to handle mouth sores.
And above all, we laughed. Vomit, doctors, hospitals, baldness: every topic was fair game for what we discovered were fairly twisted senses of humor. Laughter didn't mean that we denied the seriousness of our situation, however. To us, the ability to laugh meant that we had not let the gravity of our situations crush our spirits. We were deadly serious about laughing, because every laugh was an affirmation of life.
Somewhere in there, we bonded on a deeper level than most people could fathom, even though we knew little about each other apart from our status as cancer patients. But in that rarefied world where we had been exiled with a single diagnosis – Planet Cancer, as we called it – we were able to help each other in ways that no one else could.
Within a year of our meeting, after I moved to another state, Robin and Paul had both relapsed and died; Robin from melanoma and Paul from Hodgkin's disease. I hope that our short time together made them stronger and helped them, as I know it helped me.