I had a strange experience over the weekend: the first negative response to my public fight against cancer.
I don’t want to give the guy any further oxygen of publicity, so I won’t name him here. Instead, for the purposes of this blog post, I’ll call him Troll (you have NO idea how many names I typed and deleted just then!)
In order to attract attention to my blog, I tweeted a handful of people I admire and asked if they would be kind enough to re-tweet the link to where I write about my battle with cancer.
The brilliant Reverend Richard Coles (formerly of The Communards, now a popular support act for God) did just that. I got a lot of new visitors as a result.
Then, a message popped up on Twitter…
Troll: Why do people battle cancer? Do they battle heart disease? I’ve had cancer. You take the medicine – battle?
I have to admit, it took me a little by surprise. I don’t know this guy, so why does it matter to him what I call how I deal with my illness.
So, I tweeted back…
Me: To me and my young family it is, yes.
And from there, the conversation went like this…
Troll: I took the surgery, chemo, radio – I did not “battle”.
Me: I’m delighted to hear it. I, however, choose to battle.
Troll: I wish you well but how does the battle manifest itself other than you taking the medicine?
Me: Mental attitude, staying positive for my two scared sons, and more. Thanks for the advice, however.
Troll: Of course that’s important but it is the treatment that does the main work.
Me: I understand the process, thank you.
At this point, I decided that there was nothing to be gained by engaging with this person, and so ignored him.
However, my sister, Sue, was not impressed by his comments, and told him so…
Sue: Thanks for taking the time to belittle how my brother chooses to address HIS illness, note the emphasis on his, not yours.
Troll: I think you will find my comments were generic rather than personal.
Sue: You made it personal by taking it upon yourself to question him. If he feels like it’s a battle, then it’s a battle.
Troll: I think if you read carefully I was not questioning him but the specific concept of battle.
Sue: Then maybe address them to generic people, not in response to someone just diagnosed with cancer?
Troll: I wish you brother well: but a blog is a public forum and I, who had surgery, chemo and radio am also entitled to my opinion.
Sue: It’s your right to call however you deal with your own illness whatever you want, his to do the same. Good night.
Troll: Did I suggest otherwise? Many on Twitter seem to 2nd guess.
Sue: Well, each to their own. I get no pleasure from making a man, newly diagnosed with a scary illness, explain himself.
Troll: If you read my tweets you will see none is personal.
Sue: If that makes you feel better, you think like that. Goodnight.
And on the conversation went on…
…and continued the next day with my very good friend and admin of this very website, Barry Hutchison…
Barry: The willingness to go through great hardship in the hope of staying alive is a very clear definition of “battling” IMO. I am perplexed why you’d feel the need to chime in on the statement, frankly.
Troll: Because when I had cancer there was no battle – I let the surgery, chemo & radio do their work. Battle is tabloid speak.
Barry: But my point is, why question how someone describes their situation? Positive mindset and drive to beat illness can only help.
Troll: My question was generic rather than personal – I am not familiar with survival data on positive mind – I doubt major effect.
Barry: You say it was a generic remark, but you made it direct to someone making a personal statement about their own illness.
Troll: True but in a public forum.
Barry: So make your generic comments in a public forum, but not aimed at someone in particular. Did he aim his tweet at you directly?
Troll: It came via a RT but a blog is intended as a public forum – surely?
Barry: Forget it. Life’s too short to discuss this any further with you. Like I say, though… If, on hearing a person has cancer, my first instinct would not be to question the words they chose to describe their situation.
Troll: I was not questioning that but asking why? There is a difference.
And on the thread went, round and round, until Barry very wisely gave up.
Basically, this clown was saying to me:
“You’re doing cancer wrong! do it my way!”
Er… no thanks, fella. I’ll decide what I decide to call the way I face my illness. If I decide it’s a battle, then it’s a battle. And it’s got sod all to do with you.
I have to admit to expecting one or two negative comments about the very public way in which I’m charting my fight against this terrible disease. And I’m not in the slightest bit bothered by what this guy had to say.
The messages of support, love, prayers, help and good vibes that I receive every day FAR outweigh anything a mere Twitter troll could try to impose on my outlook.
So [NAME REDACTED] – go and boil your head!
And that sentence needed rewriting a few times, too!