Dear Cancer: Break Up Letters From Survivors

Earlier this year, ProMedica Cancer Institute asked three breast cancer survivors to write short break up letters to the illness that threatened their lives. The responses were nothing short of emotional, hilarious, heartbreaking, and real.

The exercise even proved to be therapeutic. As participant Mary Helen Darah described it, “It felt incredible to mentally and symbolically divorce myself from cancer’s clutches.”

For a recent Pink in the Rink promotion with the Toledo Walleye, which raised awareness for breast cancer and supported the efforts of Susan G. Komen of Northwest Ohio, our cancer survivors agreed to read and record their letters on video.

Meet the Survivors
Robin Charney is the cancer outreach coordinator at ProMedica Cancer Institute. She is also a three-year cancer survivor. Here is her complete break up letter to cancer:

“To Cancer:
Ok, it’s time to set you straight once and for all.
You weaseled your way into my life,
caused all kinds of commotion,
and it took a lot to get rid of you.
You’re Creepy.
Sometimes I wonder if you’re just around the corner looking at me,
waiting to sneak up on me.
Well tell you what: No more!
You’re not going to scare me and I’m not putting my life on hold for you.
I’m breaking up, that’s it, it’s over.
I’ve got a lot to do in this life and hey, guess what?
You’re history.
No longer yours,

ToDear Cancer 2

Mary Helen Darah is a ProMedica HealthConnect contributor and blogger known as The Mother of Mayhem. She is a feisty cancer survivor. Here’s her break up letter to cancer:
“Dear Cancer:
We are officially OVER.
Don’t take it personally it’s not you, it’s ME.
Who are we kidding? It’s ALL you.
You invaded every aspect of my life,
and nearly drove me six feet under.
You tried to break my spirit, my hope and my faith.
You had quite the free run with me.
Thank God I stopped you before you went beyond “second base.”
To paraphrase my favorite bear Poo,
I found out I’m braver than I believed,
stronger than I seemed,
and smarter than I knew.
You may have succeeded in taking away my financial security,
a few body parts, my hair…
Seriously-did you have to take the eyelashes too?
…and my short-term memory but guess what?
WAIT, what was I saying?
Oh yeah, I’m still standing and if you ever have the audacity to return,
I will fight you with greater fortitude than I did before.
By the way, don’t even try to hook up with my friends.
I have told them all about you,
and they are keeping an eye out for your kind of crazy
through regular mammogram screenings.
I have moved on.
I am living life to the fullest,
and loving, laughing and learning until I take my last breath,
which won’t be taken away by you.
No longer yours,

The Big C Front Focus

Kay-Lynne Schaller is a five-year breast cancer fighter. Here’s how she said good riddance to the disease:
“Dear Cancer,
Almost 6 years ago you came into my life,
and I’ll admit, you really blew me away.
I dropped nearly everything I was doing at the time just for you.
I gave you all my time,
gave up my favorite hobbies,
and really sacrificed so much…
Just. For. You.
Well, you know, time has passed,
and I’ve come to realize,
I think we’re just not meant for each other.
Oh hell, what am I doing being so nice!?
You are a dirty, rotten waste of time!
You not only royally screwed up more than a year of my life,
you scared my friends and family, too!
Even my DOG knew that you are miserable and worthless!!
NO ONE (and I really mean it, no one!) WANTS YOU AROUND!
So, you can just take your “take-over” ways, and leave!
Leave me alone!
Here’s what I’ll keep from our old relationship:
• The new friends I’ve met who think I’m awesome and know you’re stupid!
• A new purpose in life, to live passionately withOUT YOU!
• The will and skill to warn others about you and your despicable ways!
I’ve discovered that I am more powerful than I knew.
I’ve learned that knowledge is power,
and I not only know how to look for you,
but I’m letting anyone who will listen in
on how to avoid a tangle with you too.
Disgusted with you,

stupid cancer front focus
Are you a cancer survivor or warrior? Share your break up letters with us by emailing them to or in a comment below.