April 15, 2015
Stick and stones may break your bones, but words can never hurt you.
I once believed that, when I was innocent.
After a few years and loves, you learn that some words cut deeper than any schoolyard scoundrel’s switchblade or surly surgeon’s scalpel.
Watch the childhood victim, of any verbal bully, desperately bargaining with their parent.
Wishing they really did have a headache, or something more sinister as an bargaining chip, securing their emotional safety for one more day.
Their only wish is to avoid the lair of their perpetual tormenter, and his crowd of Kitty G’s.
Loss teaches us that words can hurt.
It attaches a sequence of letters, like a footnote in your reality, to remind you about the powerlessness.
In the right context, these words creep in, adding new files to the mind’s shelves .
And every hurtful word, slowly and surreptitiously, replaces the ingredients that compose the recipe of yourself.
Much the same way cnacer replaces you, on the inside, cell by cell.
These words are the doors to those rooms in our head; you try not to visit.
Like Twister in your mind, it snaps back to fetal positions; nature’s revisit, of Hide and Weak.
A time when you were so vulnerable; your unconscious mind, convinces muscle memory to forget.
Certain words hurt in a way that make sticks and stones seem inanimate, and a preferable lobby.
They are that déjà view of trauma lived, and the loss of what is loved.
Eventually the mind wanders away from Hotel California, from past to present, and you are on the road again, in this reality.
But you always seem to feel, temporarily at least, a bit more disoriented.
At least, until the next time you are involuntarily taken hostage, when someone again utters that code word, to your secret personal pain.
In fact, it may be one of the best ways we can tell our tale of silence and suffering. That is, to ask someone, which words are their Kryptonite.
There is the N word, and the C word, 2 words that are vile in every way, especially when uttered with malice.
Being a white male, I had the unknown privilege in my ignorance, to skate past those words, never seeing the thin ice covering the ocean of oppression.
It wasn’t until I grew wiser that I realized just how sharp the tongue’s blade can be.
And ask anyone who has been bullied, a single word can pick the lock of suicide’s salon, depending on the turn of phrase.
And so, for many years after, I avoided N and C, and I am proud of myself for that. And valuing others for their ethnicity or gender, did not protect what I love from the killer that does not discriminate.
I had ignorantly breezed by, because cnacer had never hurt anything that I truly loved before.
When you are fighting, it feels like the parallel universe of powerlessness. And I still feel the vacuum of emptiness when I see that word.
Its gravity has messed me up.
There seems no way to directly fight this Alien, because I am not smart enough, or too distracted, to tolerate the intricate research required to find a cure.
But there is one that way that we can fight back and punch cnacer in the place we meet it every day.
We can ‘F Up’ how it is spelled.
We can mess up this word so victims, victors, and those on the front lines, know you are on their side of life.
You are on their side, even though you don’t know everything about them, the same reason people don’t invest in other stock markets.
But, in this case, you do not have to know everything, because you know one thing.
You know they, or a loved one, are in physiologic conflict, and their very insides are the battlefield.
Hopefully, you have no idea what it is like, to no longer care about holidays, money, or hair, when all you are worried about is dying.
It is easy to ignore this message, especially if you fall into one of the following categories: young people, healthy people, those who have never had a loved one that received this awful diagnosis, and people who are currently doing something that they know causes cancer, the great deniers.
This can be the first day of your battle too, because we all know, when you eventually look in the mirror, it could be you.
There are those among us, braver than me by far, that answer the call to defend their country.
For the people who have volunteered to sacrifice their lives, in battle for our freedom, we have a symbol and a day to remember. They deserve more, but that if for another essay.
I want to leave a daily legacy, a semantic poppy, that demonstrates we too can fight back, and mix up the letters of this word the way it turns our dna into the anagram of oblivion.
I want to honor those, who were silently volunteered, to fight for their life, without ever seeing the face of the enemy.
The only glimpses seen, in hollowing of eyes; shade of skin, and chameleon of hope.
I want a Memory Moment (of Kerri), when I gaze upon that human enemy.
A correction on our human page.
I want it to know that we are not afraid anymore; there have been advances, and now it is our time to mess up cnacer the way it has messed us up.
I want it spelled CNACER.
Who knows maybe Apple will change the Autocorrect, to this newer, beatable version?
With Polio and Nanobullets on all of our sides, we are very recently starting to rewrite the history books on our war with this enemy, at least in GB form. See previous essay.
Let’s also rewrite the Spelling Books to remind ourselves, its victims, and cnacer itself, that it is not going to win.
As we destroy this sin that taxes time, and whittles our life, let’s reverse this syntax.
WE CAN ALL FIGHT BACK, because powerlessness stems from feeling like you have absolutely no way to defend yourself.
I guarantee that anyone who has been grabbed and choked by cnacers bloody knuckles, will appreciate the simple gesture of reversing 2 digits. They will know that you get it, and are on their thin side, of life’s ledger.
I’m doing this for her. You could do this for your special person who is fighting, or has fought. Or for those who will get this in the future. Maybe even you.
This CNACER Campaign seeks to permanently change the way we spell cnacer, moving forward.
I want to know that we did something instead of waiting patiently in the audience, hoping we won’t be selected next, for Oncogene Hunger Games.
I absolutely love the ‘F Cnacer’ movement! I just hesitate to go viral with it, because it forces me to teach my children a bad word, to introduce them to one far worse.
Let me just cut to the chase.
Cnacer, you totalled my life, and it will never drive the same.
What you have taken can never be replaced; there is no insurance for love.
I know, I can never meet you in that dark alley, apart from the one in my mind that you park in.
But this does not need to be my lot forever.
For, I have found a way to hurt you too.
From now on, I am going to spell you ‘CNACER’, to distort you the way you have me.
I believe this small act, will help me start to once again enjoy cruising, all the avenues of my life.
And streets of my heart.
Thank you for reading my personal story.
Please SHARE, TWEET, or put #CNACER in your status updates, on the tip of your tongue, and in the hook of your heart, where you hang hope.
Simon Trepel, MD
for Kerri Tymchuk, ‘Bunny’, 1977-2012
Simon Trepel, MD FRCPC, is a practicing Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, in Winnipeg, Canada. He is an Assistant Professor, at the University Of Manitoba, in the Faculty of Medicine, and the Co-founder of the GDAAY Clinic. He is, more importantly, the proud Father of 2 beautiful Daughters. He writes in his spare time about things he knows something about, and occasionally about things he doesn’t; like Yoga, and Italian flavored coffees. He was not referring to coffee that tastes like an Italian person.
Check out his Blog, called Simon Says Psych Stuff, at