A few weeks back, Mr Cool and I went to an informative session titled “Managing Kids Anger” and it taught us a great deal about what’s going on in our household at the moment and who is actually in the driver’s seat of our big red angry bus.
For a long time, everyone in my house has been angry. The dogs. Mr Cool. The kids. Even the mailman seems to be slamming the flap on our letterbox with some extra force.
Like most households with young children, there are many stresses that lead to angry outbursts, such as sibling rivalry, being told no, being tired, having a hard day at school, not being listened too. There are many presentations of anger in our house; slamming doors, stomping, hitting, yelling, swearing, breaking toys, crying or seeking to be alone. And that’s just me!
Some of this anger is just our kids expressing themselves when they feel there is has been an injustice and when they can’t find the words to express it.
But there are signs in both our children of deeper frustrations, fears, and worries that cancer-less households don’t experience. So I’m convinced that a fair chunk of this anger is the impact of me having been diagnosed with cancer when my children were just 1 & 4 years old.
A large part of our children’s childhood has been immersed in a deep pool of cancery poop and they are angry about it and so are Mr Cool and I. So I’ve coined a new term for survivors around the world, a term that they might find helpful, that might help them frame what goes on.
Cancer and angry = Cangry
You know, like when hunger and angry joined together and became hangry, which describes anger that is associated with being hungry.
Three and a half years on from my breast cancer diagnosis, I believe cangry is absolutely a real thing and I reckon it deserves a place in the dictionary. So here goes…
verb, can·ger \ˈcaŋ-gər\ (cancer related anger) Canger is a general word that applies to many different levels of emotion that may or may not be shown because of a cancer diagnosis. <She kept her canger inside herself>.
noun, can·gry\ caŋ-gry\ a strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused by a wrong; wrath; ire from the effect of cancer.
transitive verb : to make cangry <she was cangered by the diagnosis>
intransitive verb : to become cangry <I canger with little provocation>
adjective : cangerless\-ləs\
I wasn’t cangry when I went through active cancer treatment. I never felt sorry for myself about the diagnosis. I never asked “why did this happen to me?” I simply settled on “why not me?”
It has taken 2 to 3.5 years after diagnosis for my canger to emerge. It made itself known once the dust settled and the
wreckage shitty legacy of cancer came into view.
Three and a half years on, I’m cancer free. But I’m still without hair and I’m 30kgs overweight. I have constant pain in my hands, forearms, feet and ankles from the medications I take. I suffer from insomnia. Depression has a constant seat at my table and sometimes, I feel that the anti-cancer medications are both keeping me alive and killing me at the same time. And I am cangry about all this. But it doesn’t just knock at me.
Just this morning, Mr Cool pulled up at the lights on his road bike. A ninety-five year old lady crossed at the intersection with her shopping trolley and a durry hanging out of her mouth and her packet of Horizon 50’s balancing on the top. Mr Cool thought why cancer for my wife at thirty-seven? Why our kids? Why our marriage? His canger simmers away and bubbles to the surface often, robbing us elements of our happiness.
Something as innocuous as listening to my girlfriends notice each other’s new hairstyle. BAM! Cangry! This “canger” (cancer related anger) can present itself in a plethora of ways. The feelings are broad and can appear instantaneously…angry, annoyed, bitter, cross, disturbed, explosive, frustrated, grumpy, hateful, hopeless, imposed upon, infuriated, irate, irritated, jealous, mad, obsessed, ouraged, raging, restless, trapped.
My friends, it’s okay to be cangry. For canger is a normal emotion for anyone who has been traumatised and transformed by a cancer diagnosis; their own or someone they care about.
It’s just really important to recognise it and introduce strategies for dealing with it. Don’t let it spew out into your relationships and poison your loved ones. Tackle it head on and stop it from persisting for years and impeding your happiness.
Let’s not allow cancer to take any more from us than it already has. xxx
Helping yourself or your children to manage their canger.
Listen to the cangry person with your whole body
- stop what you are doing
- get down to the persons level
- look at the person
- speak using a calm voice
Put your/your childs feelings of canger into words.
- “It looks like you are feeling scared/ angry/ sad about cancer”.
- “You sound pretty worried/cross”
Empathise with the cangry person
- Cancer is a horrible thing. It’s not fair. It just happens.
- If that happened to me, I’d feel cangry too.
- I’m always here for you to talk about your canger.
Help the cangry person solve their problems.
- What could you do about that?
- What could you do when cangry happens again?
- How can we make the best of this shitty situation?
- Can we focus on today instead of worrying about the future?
Things I find helpful to diffuse canger
- Listen to music
- deep abdominal breathing
- have a shower
- mindfullness meditation
- Use humour (cause lets face it, without humour the world is cray cray)
- Talk with other people going though it.
- Talk to a GP or a counseller/psychologist who specialises in trauma and grief.