The Cancer Card

It was my first day back at college. I was feeling nervous and apprehensive, walking in alone, without my friends felt weird. I had now chosen my subjects which were Media, English Language and Psychology. Having heard things about a lot of different courses from my friends, helped me to make this decision. I avoided the courses they moaned about and chose these three hoping I’d get on with them well. I only had the three courses to do instead of the normal four, as I was still on my chemotherapy treatment and didn’t want to overload myself with college work, so the college agreed that I could just do the three courses, which I would then take on to the second year instead of having the option to drop one.

It was weird, in my first time at college I had no friends in my classes, being such a shy girl I never spoke up, I was the one who sat on the end of the desk where no-one would take notice of me. However now, I was more confident in myself and managed to make friends in my classes, however in the breaks between I was more alone. Sometimes I hung out with the friends I had made in my classes and their friends, but I always felt like an outsider. I wasn’t part of zed friendship group and often felt more of a cling on than part of their group so I often took myself up to the library, which is where I discovered the cancer card.

The cancer card, is something I made up. It’s hard to describe but I’ll tell you the first instance in which I used it….

At college you’re encouraged to take books out of the library to help you out with your course. I had taken a few out when I first started college in 2007 which were due back at what would have been my second year in 2008. Of course, I didn’t come back to college until 2009, so when I came to return the books, I was returning them over a year late.

I went up to the library desk, gave the lady my books and waited for her to process them. Upon realising that these were overdue by a year she looked at me sternly and told me so along with the fact that I had a humongous fine. I started to panic, I definitely couldn’t afford this fine and would therefore have to ask my parents to pay it, which I knew would anger my Dad, who has never been one happy to part with his money. “I’m sorry”, I said. “I couldn’t return them last year, I was ill”. The lady still had an angry look on her face and said, “Well that’s ridiculous, you could have returned them a few days later or got a friend to return them for you”. I realised that she didn’t realise what ill meant. She obviously thought I had had a cold or something. Time to bring out the big guns I thought. “I’m sorry I couldn’t do that”, I said. “I was in hospital, I had cancer”. The lady’s expression quickly changed from anger to ‘oh shit’. “What’s your name?”, she asked. “Lucy Pullen” I said. “Oh, I didn’t realise it was you”, she replied in a panic. I’m guessing an email had gone around the staff of the college, ‘By the way a girl is starting this year, she’s near to finishing her cancer treatment, be nice to her’, something along those lines anyway! The library lady said that she would wipe the fine and would take back the books without me having to pay a single penny.

I walked away feeling quite proud of myself. I had managed to stick up for myself and beat this woman down by playing the cancer card.


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