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The biggest motivation for writing a cancer room memoir like ‘LICKING CANCER, The Full Response’ is paying tribute to the people I met in there.


From staff to patients, it’s a team focused on the same goal, until it goes off the tracks, and it does in one way or the other for everyone.


Because you never get to meet these people in real life, they often go unnoticed. But I noticed them. It was an exercise in trying not to notice myself while I was there.


Turns out I’m not that interesting, even to myself, which was a good sign.

For radiation people, we had our own parking spots. If there were full we could park along the yellow “Do Not Park” strip. Cancer privileges.


Who reads cancer room memoirs? If it’s a good story well written it finds an audience. If it’s a bad story poorly written it’ll go where every bad story poorly written goes. The remainder shelf.


My story will find an audience of sports fans, fitness people, family people, cancer people, and anyone seeking a book with redeeming value.


Since I write this blog to a baby boomer audience, with over fifty percent of my readers millennials, the audience is pretty broad given boomers and millennials are #1 and #2 ranked as largest demographic in America.


To make it even more interesting my wife is a naturopathic doctor whose husband, me, was going through the wringer. We’ve got two millennial sons together to add spice to life.


With HPV16 tongue cancer I had to explain what it was. I admit I’ve taken a certain glee in explaining it to very proper appearing people who pretend to be interested. They are and they aren’t. You know, best of times, worst of times.


Not saying it’s fun delivering shocking news, but it took the edge off more than once. The Van Halen album is a clue. Eyes glazing at the mention of oral sex in any fashion was a sign. I get a little glazed myself thinking of the evil consequences of an innocent activity.


With flashbacks to high school and college, and being single for a good ten years in my goofy version of a dating life, Licking Cancer provides the framework for a larger story of shame, embarrassment, the usual feelings of being bad at sex, and getting the hell over yourself. In this case, myself.


A conversation just this morning gave more inspiration to write it. I spoke to an older man who’d had a heart attack and survived. He said he couldn’t describe what he felt like when it happened. So I explained it for him like this:
“Facing death is new for most people. Then when you survive a brush it seems like it all happened to someone else and the feeling escapes.”


Licking Cancer isn’t about death, it’s about life, and people engaged in life. Last year it felt like I’d had my last Thanksgiving. This year I’m the cook.


Doesn’t get any better than that. Now I’m brining a turkey for tomorrow. To one and all, Happy Thanksgiving. (And I’m the happiest jackass out of the cancer room.)
About David Gillaspie


  1. […] That’s what I heard after running Hood To Coast at 49 and felt like I was dying, repeated when I got cancer at 62. Be ready to hear it all, but more important, be ready to lend a little sympathy. […]

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