a butterfinger pie with an exclamation mark in it

Cancer Emotions and Butterfinger Pie

"I think you took out your anxieties on those hedges!" my neighbor said. We were looking at the two hedges on each side of my house. It was true; I had scalped them almost to the ground with my electric shears. It was a week before my trip to MD Anderson. I had been diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) a few months earlier. I wasn't looking forward to my second bone marrow biopsy.

Have you ever watched that fixer-upper show with Chip and Joanna Gaines? Chip says his favorite day is demo day. He and his crew swing mallets to knock out cabinets, walls, etc. That's what I wish I could do to those cancer cells, scoop them out, crush and kick them to the curb.

It's alright to be angry about cancer

David Spiegel, MD, a psychiatrist at Stanford University, said, "If you're not sometimes angry, fearful, or sad that you have cancer, then there really is something wrong with you." Thank you, Dr. Spiegel, I needed to hear that. The doctor also said, "Emotions are your friends, not your enemies, so see them as a signal system that's there for a reason. Unresolved anger may make patients more likely to become self-destructive and abuse drugs and alcohol."1

Counselors remind us to use I-messages. (I feel angry when you _____. I want you to _______.) So here goes. Cancer, I feel angry when you make me tired. I hate it when my friend scoffs when I say I need to go home to take a nap. I want my body to spit out this cancer. It's also good to talk to yourself. Self, you've got this. Keep calm. Relax and say a prayer.

Keeping active is helpful. When I have told my doctors that I tire easily, they always ask, "Do you exercise?" Yes, I have been going to Tai Chi classes and I walk a lot. I have never been athletic. I remember in junior high school, my mother said, "Daddy and I are proud of your grades! All A's and B's, except for that C in gym class. Daddy says you take after me." Because I'm not athletic, I use housework or yard work as a form of exercise. I try to pick a chore each day. I can weed a flower bed and pretend the weeds are cancer cells I am plucking out of my bloodstream. Maybe I will scrub the kitchen floor and wipe away that nasty cancer.

Butterfinger pie

I like to keep my house clean so that I can invite a friend over for coffee and dessert. Here is my recipe for Butterfinger Pie. It's fun to make because you have to crush those candy bars. I can pretend that I am beating those cancer cells.


Six regular-sized Butterfinger candy bars crushed (I use a rolling pin.)
One twelve-oz. Cool Whip
One chocolate graham cracker crust


  1. Mix crushed Butterfingers and Cool Whip.
  2. Put into chocolate graham cracker crust.
  3. Chill for several hours.

Here's some advice you have heard before: Eat healthy foods (Oh, I know. Butterfinger Pie is not on the healthy list, but all things in moderation, right?), get plenty of rest and some exercise. The anger is normal; use that energy to live better.

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