Skip to content

Cancer, Comics, And Having The Guts To Talk About It

I have 2 personal rules when I make my comics:

  • If it isn’t therapeutic for me, it won’t be therapeutic for anyone else.
  • Every comic should make me squirm before I publish it.

Do you want to see people’s faces change from a smile to utter horror in a nanosecond? Tell them you have cancer. Want to push it further? Keep talking about it. Want to risk turning a lot of people off? Make a comic that looks like this:

Take 5

Why in the Holy Hell would I release such stuff, when the mere mention of cancer turns any lively room into a dismal one? Have I lost my damn mind?

But an even better question is: why is it working? Because it is working. Gloriously so. In a few short months since I started the comic, I’ve been averaging 10-15,000 website visitors a month. And I receive long and heartfelt messages every week, and sometimes every day, thanking me for making a comic that tells the truth about the cancer experience in ways nothing else has. Why is a comic about cancer working? My only answer I can think of is because it’s my story and it’s true.

And people like a storyteller with some guts.

Deep down, we LOVE honesty. We crave it. It’s why we trusted Simon Cowell’s feedback on American Idol better than any other judge. We love honesty, LOVE it. But yet, we’re so afraid of telling it. What if we go too far? What if people won’t like us afterward? What if? What if? What if?

But with cancer, there’s no easy way to talk about it, so you might as well go all the way. Be you in all your glorious ‘you-ness’ and to hell with those who don’t have the stomach for it. Your pain matters! Your story matters! And all the sufferers of this damned disease who feel shamed into silence will see YOUR story and say, “Thank you!” and quite possibly get the courage to share their story and make a difference with someone else.

So when you go to share your story, in whatever way you choose to share it, you might get an uneasy feeling about “what they might say”. You might get downright terrified! These are normal feelings. But I think you’ll be happier for taking the leap, speaking your truth, and making a difference.