Elephants And Tea - March 2021 - 14

Conversation

Q&A WITH THE CANCER PATIENT

er. For the first two months, I just cropped
out the watermark, I didn't even buy the
meme app! Then after I got to almost 10,000
followers, I was like ok maybe I can finally
spend $2/month to pay for the app. It's just
crazy, looking back, I started with an old
iPhone and sharing memes. And now there's
a community from all over the world, and
60,000 followers.
Jen: There are so many cancer resources
and communities now. What makes TCP
different and such a resounding success?
TCP: I think what makes the page successful is that I don't conform to the societal
demands of what a cancer patient should
look like. Most cancer pages are about being
inspirational, strong, brave, with motivational quotes with sunshine and rainbows.
And here I come with morbid ass memes,
talking about nausea, Ativan, not trusting a
fart during treatment and other questionable
(but real) coping mechanisms. It identifies
more with the everyday " typical " cancer
patient. Sure, we have all these inspirational
stories about people who run a marathon or
climb a mountain after treatment. And that
is amazing. But not every cancer patient
can do that. Probably actually only 5%. I
talk about the average joe cancer patient.
No one talks about how we spend sleepless

hours Googling our prognosis. Instead of an
article about " How to get through Scanxiety " I'm over here drinking a mimosa and
obsessively refreshing MyChart. It's not
about the picturesque and triumphant stories, which are great. But people sometimes
see cancer as some whimsical, inspirational
phase in your life. We fail to acknowledge
the real issues in our community Real issues are ignored because we are too busy
making cancer look inspirational. There's
always this perception that going through a
life-threatening illness is supposed to give
you some big life purpose. Not everyone
has that. Going through this illness could
just be a shitty part of your life. It's great
that some people have got a purpose and
learned things about themselves because of
cancer, but it's also ok if you're not able to
do that. And I think both sides of the coin
are shown in the page.
Jen: Working full-time as a nurse, plus
running this page is a lot. However, you
continue to run this by yourself. Why do
you keep it just you?
TCP: I dont think it works to hand it over
to someone else. I'm not saying no one else
could, but I just think that there will be a
difference if someone else would run the
page. It's also a lot to take on, and I can't

I think what makes the page successful is that I
don't conform to the societal demands of what
a cancer patient should look like. Most cancer
pages are about being inspirational, strong,
brave, with motivational quotes with sunshine
and rainbows. And here I come with morbidass memes, talking about nausea, Ativan, not
trusting a fart during treatment and other
questionable (but real) coping mechanisms.

even imagine asking someone. It's a huge
responsibility. Messages of death, and so
much more- it's very intense. I got a DM
from a 15 yr. old kid, asking " what does
hospice mea n 'cause I overheard t hem
talking about my mom, she's in hospice? " .
How the fuck do I answer this? I'm not a
therapist, I'm a nurse. It's different when
you're wearing scrubs and talking to a patient, as opposed to a DM. At this point,
it's not fair to delegate to other people. I
do ask for help in other ways from people,
especia l ly rega rd i ng creat i ng content,
coming up with captions, or asking them
if a joke is funny or lame.
Jen: How many DM's do you get daily?
TCP: If there's an active discussion, at least
50. There are times I get busy or need to take
a step back. Those days, I probably get 20
DMs. Sometimes I sit on a question I'm sent.
And I sometimes forget to post because I'm
just one person, and then people get pissed...
Jen: The reach of TCP is international. Any
where you haven't heard from?
TCP: No Nigerian prince has messaged me
yet!! I haven't heard a lot from Africa, except
for South Africa. But a lot from the Middle
East, India, Israel, New Zealand, and other
Asian countries follow the page.
Jen: What's the biggest struggle with TCP
page?
TCP: Having to navigate people asking for
medical advice. As a nurse myself, I want to
only share sound medical advice. And sometimes there's no way for me to know that. It's
beyond my scope. Sometimes I choose not
to share people asking for specific medical
advice, because this is not the right platform
for it, and those conversations are best had
with your doctor. And there can be so much
differing information on a drug out there,
and there is no way for me to personally
know what's right to you. I really struggle
with people asking for medical advice.
I think there's certain medical things we
can discuss, like dealing with side effects,
but a lot of times it is a conversation best
had with your doctor.
Jen: Any future plans for TCP?

14

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MARCH 2021


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Elephants And Tea - March 2021

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Elephants And Tea - March 2021 - 1
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