The game of cancer comparisons

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

Over the last couple of weeks I have caught myself playing the game of cancer comparisons.

By this I mean, hearing another person’s cancer story and comparing mine with theirs. Looking for similarities, looking for differences, looking for learnings. And, ultimately feeling either more lucky or less lucky in my cancer world.

I suppose this is human nature.

The game of comparisons starts when we’re young. As children we learn along the way how to compare ourselves to our friends – who is prettier, who is taller, who can get a better score on a test, who can kick the ball further, etc etc. When we grow up, it becomes, who has the better career, the nicer house, the smarter car – and the falsehood of “the grass is always greener on the other side”. And it’s not normally a game anyone enjoys or anyone really benefits from, unless you are one of the few who is able to use the negative energy to work harder on making your own grass greener.

And so it makes sense that the same goes when it comes to cancer.

There is nothing to be gained from comparing your diagnosis with someone else’s

No two people are the same, as such, no cancer journeys are the same.

While it appears from the outside that many of us travel the same cancer treatment paths, there are so many variables along the way that your medical team assess and base decisions on, that no two journeys are ever exactly the same. As no two cancers are exactly the same, no two people have the same DNA, etc.

Today I met a friend for coffee. She has also just finished her treatment for breast cancer. While we were talking I found myself playing the comparison game again, and feeling sorry for myself. Then she reminded me that just because my cancer journey looks like “x” so far, doesn’t mean “y” will or won’t happen in the future because it did or didn’t happen to someone else in a similar situation. My own journey is unique to me and no one can predict what it will be. While this uncertainty may be frightening, it can also be liberating, if we let it.

It got me thinking then that all we can do is run what we see – run what’s in front of us, right now, and not look too far into the future.

This post is my reminder to myself that we are all individuals, each one of us on a unique cancer path, no two paths alike and finally, no point comparing.

I hope you’ve found this helpful. Please feel free to leave your thoughts on this in the comments below.

By Happy Magazine Editor, Holly Kennedy


  1. Rosemary Briem
    14 November, 2018 / 10:34 am

    Hi Holly. I agree with your sentiments wholeheartedly, however since finding happy magazine and reading the various stories of people’s journey with cancer I no longer feel sorry for our situation because there are so many much worse experiences than ours, it also gives me hope because people are overcoming the most difficult treatments and prognosis. As you say, no two cancer journeys are the same and also we can never tell how someone is feeling inside by how they appear on the outside. Thanks again for starting this wonderful magazine which is having such a positive impact on many peoples lives, Romy.

    • happymagazine
      14 November, 2018 / 10:57 am

      Thanks so much Romy. Yes, there is always someone with a much worse experience than our own. This can help to put our own situation in perspective. Thanks so much for your lovely comment, I am so pleased you are enjoying Happy Magazine 💖

  2. 14 November, 2018 / 7:50 pm

    Great post Holly. It’s great to share our experience with people but as you say the outcomes are based on so many variable factors no one really knows what will happen next. A great reminder.

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