Roadkill Goldfish

Please share your cancer story or honor a loved one who’s been there

Just like millions of other cancer patients, my good days make me feel strong enough to beat this thing. Bad days make me feel weak, frightened, angry or sad.

There is power in vulnerability.

I discovered this just a few days ago when I wrote about the 10 things I wish my friends and family knew about cancer.

My cancer.

As it turns out, I was writing about OUR cancer.

More than 30,000 of you read and shared the post during its first few days, and I’ve received dozens of emails and comments via Facebook and the blog about YOUR personal experiences with this awful disease.

Thanks to you, we’ve been able to start a real and HONEST dialogue about how cancer impacts lives. Many of you shared how the piece helped you share your feelings or support a loved one whose body cells have gone horribly rogue.

We’ve shared our vulnerability, and we’ve grown stronger.

Please keep those stories coming because they help EMPOWER so many people. I’d also like to encourage you to share the names of loved ones who are currently experiencing cancer, have kicked malignancy’s butt, or are waiting for us in Heaven.

Use the comment section below.*

I’ll start with some of my personal cancer compadres:

The fighters and victors Carol T. (thyroid), Erin K.  (breast), Julie G. (breast), Helen W. (endometrial), Jim K., Lynn L. (bone), Matt B. (leukemia), Monica T. (breast),  Joaquina S. (colon), Victoria S. (endometrial), and Robert T. (colon).

The ones I’ll see again Uncle Craig (lung), Aunt Josie (stomach), Father Keith, and  many children I knew from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

  *I am a Christian, and many of Roadkill Goldfish’s readers are devout people of faith. Anticipate that someone will be praying for you and your loved ones.

  Out of respect of others’ privacy, please use only the  first name and last initial unless you have permission to use the individual’s full name. 

What your friends with cancer want you to know (but are afraid to say)

Original image: Flickr, Justin Sewell

Original image: Flickr, Justin Sewell

People with cancer are supposed to be heroic.

We fight a disease that terrifies everyone.

We are strong because we endure treatments that can feel worse than the actual malignancies.

We are brave because our lab tests come back with news we don’t want to hear.

 The reality of life with cancer is very different from the image we try to portray.

Our fight is simply a willingness to go through treatment because, frankly, the alternative sucks. Strength? We endure pain and sickness for the chance to feel normal down the road.  Brave? We build up an emotional tolerance and acceptance of things we can’t change. Faith kicks in to take care of the rest.

The truth is that if someone you love has cancer, they probably won’t be completely open about what they’re going through because they’re trying so hard to be strong.

For you.

However, if they could be truly honest and vulnerable, they would tell you:

  1. Don’t wait on me to call you if I need anything.  Please call me every once in a while and set up a date and time to come over. I know you told me to call if I ever needed anything, but it’s weird asking others to spend time with me or help me with stuff I used to be able to do on my own. It makes me feel weak and needy, and I’m also afraid you’ll say “no.”

2. Let me experience real emotions. Even though cancer and its treatments can sometimes influence my outlook, I still have normal moods and feelings in response to life events. If I’m angry or upset, accept that something made me mad and don’t write it off as the disease. I need to experience and express real emotions and not have them minimized or brushed off.

3. Ask me “what’s up” rather than “how do you feel.” Let’s talk about life and what’s been happening rather than focusing on my illness.

4. Forgive me.  There will be times when the illness and its treatment make me “not myself.” I may be forgetful, abrupt or hurtful. None of this is deliberate. Please don’t take it personally, and please forgive me.

5. Just listen. I’m doing my very best to be brave and strong, but I have moments when I need to fall apart. Just listen and don’t offer solutions. A good cry releases a lot of stress and pressure for me.

6. Take pictures of us. I may fuss about a photo, but a snapshot of us can help get me through tough times.  A photo is a reminder that someone thinks I’m important and worth remembering. Don’t let me say “I don’t want you to remember me like this” when treatment leaves me bald or scarred.  This is me, who I am RIGHT NOW. Embrace the now with me.

7. I need a little time alone.  A few points ago I was talking about how much I need to spend time with you, and now I’m telling you to go away.  I love you, but sometimes I need a little solitude. It gives me the chance to take off the brave face I’ve been wearing too long, and the silence can be soothing.

8. My family needs friends. Parenting is hard enough when your body is healthy; it becomes even more challenging when you’re managing a cancer diagnosis with the day-to-day needs of your family. My children, who aren’t mature enough to understand what I’m going through, still need to go to school, do homework, play sports, and hang out with friends. Car-pooling and play dates are sanity-savers for me. Take my kids. Please.

My spouse could also benefit from a little time with friends. Grab lunch or play a round of golf together. I take comfort in knowing you care about the people I love.

9. I want you to reduce your cancer risk. I don’t want you to go through this. While some cancers strike out of the blue, many can be prevented with just a few lifestyle changes – stop smoking, lose extra weight, protect your skin from sun damage, and watch what you eat. Please go see a doctor for regular check-ups and demand follow-up whenever pain, bleeding or unusual lumps show up. Many people can live long and fulfilling lives if this disease is discovered in its early stages. I want you to have a long and fulfilling life.

10. Take nothing for granted. Enjoy the life you have right now. Take time to jump in puddles, hug the kids, and feel the wind on your face. Marvel at this amazing world God created, and thank Him for bringing us together.

While we may not be thankful for my cancer, we need to be grateful for the physicians and treatments that give me the chance to fight this thing. And if there ever comes a time when the treatments no longer work, please know that I will always be grateful for having lived my life with you in it. I hope you feel the same about me.

About the author
Kim Helminski Keller is a Dallas-based mom, wife, teacher and journalist. She is currently receiving treatment for thyroid cancer.

Thanks to reader shares, this post quickly earned the #2 spot on Roadkill Goldfish’s Most Popular Posts. (The number one spot is held by “Dear Daughter, let Miley Cyrus be a lesson to you” with 4 million views.)
Check out the other Roadkill Goldfish items that caused Internet buzz.

Young Men, Sex, and Urge Ownership (And Why It’s Not The Girl’s Problem)


Blogger John Pavlovitz recently wrote a must-read post that tackled the adolescent male sex drive, and it’s a fantastic piece about masculinity, self control, personal responsibility and respect. Check it out below:

Young men, I need to tell you something; something that maybe your fathers, or your coaches, or your uncles, or your buddies never told you, but something that you really need to hear.

Your sex drive? It’s your problem.

I know you’ve been led to believe that it’s the girl’s fault; the way she dresses, the shape of her body, her flirtatious nature, her mixed messages.

I know you’ve grown-up reading and hearing that since guys are really “visual”, that the ladies need to manage all of that by covering-up and keeping it hidden; that they need to drive this whole physical relationship deal, because we’re not capable.

That’s a load of crap.

You and me, we are visual.
We do love the shape of women’s bodies.
We are tempted and aroused by their physicality.

And all of that, is on us, not on them.

You see, we actually live in our bodies.
We direct the limbs and the words.
We choose what we grab, and touch, and rub-up against.

Our bodies ultimately do, only what our brains tell them to do.

Men, this is not a sex issue. It’s a brain issue.

This is about what we’ll choose to cultivate in our heads, and what we’ll choose to do with our hands as a result.

If I’m in a grocery store, and a woman’s standing next to me with a wide-open bag, filled with money; bills practically spilling-out onto the floor, is it OK to reach out and take any of it?

If I’m a man of integrity, and decency, and restraint; of course it isn’t.

The “visual” of that money will certainly be tempting, and I’ll probably instinctively run down the road in my mind about what I’d like to do with that much cash. Does it mean that it’s mine for the grabbing?

No.Why not?

Because the money’s valuable… and it doesn’t belong to me.

Would it ever be acceptable to rationalize, that because the woman is so careless and reckless with her own money, (money that I find enticing), that I’m somehow justified to take it?


Because the money’s valuable… and it doesn’t belong to me.

Guys, the girls you date, the ones in your class, the ones you meet on social media, the ones you pass on the street, the ones you hook-up with at parties: they’re priceless… and they don’t belong to you.

Sometimes, doing what’s right toward someone, even needs to transcend their attitude about themselves. If a girl you know shows too much, advertises too much, and offers too much, it doesn’t mean you can take too much, because it’s about the value you assign to her, and to yourself.

At the end of the day, young men, this is a matter of ownership.

You don’t now, and never will own her, and so any part of your actions that break the plane of her body, aren’t your jurisdiction, they’re hers.

The only thing you own; the only thing you’ll ever own, are your choices. 

That’s why it’s called self-control.

That’s an old-school idea, and it isn’t particularly “sexy”.
It’s not typical hip-hop song fodder.
It’s not something you’ll brag about in the locker room, and it won’t make a good multiplex movie.

It also the place where we move from being men in theory, to men in practice.

I’m sorry to have to break this news to you, as I know it’s probably difficult to hear.
It will certainly make life much more challenging, and you’ll probably have to make some changes as a result.
I also know that these words could alter your relationships now, and preserve your marriages someday.
They can protect women from damage, and nurture your character.

Control yourselves, men.
Be responsible for your responses.
Own your urges.

 Wow. Powerful words to help our sons and elevate our daughters. Thank you, John.

Check out more from John at


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