The Cancer Patient

In Homelessness, Life, People, Poverty on June 26, 2012 at 11:37 pm

Had to run errands in a satellite of the nearest metropolis. Outside one of my stops was a big brick flower planter. You know. The kind with a ledge. There was this gaunt, filthy, threadbare old man sleeping on it in the full afternoon sun… His joints swollen out of all proportion.

I hovered…

Homeless people really DON’T sleep. It’s one reason they seem so out of it and get wasted all the time. I think we’d all have to be pretty wasted to sleep in dark alleys and out in public on a regular basis, hey? They just rest, really. So, didn’t want to disturb him if he was getting rest. But I was not at all sure he was okay.

Went into the establishment. Told my girl. She said to check on him. But why hadn’t she already? She could clearly see him. It’s her establishment. She should have taken care before I got there because the scene rather upset me. All the while, people are just walking by!!! WTF?!?!?!?

WHAT! THE! F**K! PEOPLE!!!!! Wake up!

The satellite is full of the rich and upper middle class. They don’t have homeless people there and if they do I’m sure the Mounties just take ’em to downtown metropolis and drop them off with my friend, Goodie, at the homeless shelter, hey?

So… I went back out. I didn’t want to startle him. Once I showed interest then people began stopping? Like, f**k you! Now? Bystander effect? Ya think?

“Sir… Sir… Sir…”

All the while wanting to call the upper crust man now standing at my side a**hole.

The gaunt man finally stirred.

“Sir… are you alright, Sir?”

He was WAY groggy. Assured me he was okay. But, then just flaked out again.

He was NOT okay. Not at all. Not at all.

Went back in to see my girl. I thought we should call an ambulance. But a scene, an ambulance ride and most likely a five hour wait in ER? Nah. Decided I’d best go to the walk-in clinic next door and see if I could get him some discrete, immediate assistance without making a big scene.

So… Told the receptionist what was goin’ on. She told me he wasn’t homeless. He’s was a cancer patient. His joints were swollen from meds. WTF?

I was afraid to touch him for fear I would hurt him he looked that bad — I am NOT remotely afraid of touching anyone, I especially touch ‘lepers’. And no one would help him? Why? Because he was filthy and threadbare? They were too busy? It’s not their problem? They think it’s okay for gaunt old men to sleep in the street all prone and vulnerable like that?

He obviously can no longer care for himself… But who does? Who will? This is f**king Canada, man. We’re supposed to take care of each other here.

The receptionist came out and took care of him. Told me to carry on. Promised me she’d take care of him. I believed her. She was nice. (I WAS in town for errands and was burning daylight.)


I am SO unfathomably angry and ashamed of EVERYONE right now. And how! Yeah. Boy, oh, boy!

I really didn’t feel like going to town. At first, I wished I hadn’t gone at all. But, I guess, I should go more often because people just aren’t pulling their weight. Judging from the pool of drool under his head he had been there quite some time. Quite!

The cancer patient REALLY threw me for a loop. Was DEAD certain he was homeless. And, as bad as that was, it was okay. I could deal with that. Was COMPLETELY unprepared for the truth. TOTALLY. UTTERLY…



  1. This breaks my heart. I am one who has approached many people and asked if they’re okay or if they need me or my assistance. I have no fear.
    I think that FEAR is what holds decent people from acting.
    As to the less than decent, it’s fucking indifference….

  2. You said it, girl!

    The disenfranchised are not anyone to fear. They know they have no clout, worth, pull. They don’t often push their luck with people of the establishment. And, contrary to popular belief, you’ll never catch lice from them. They’re too dirty for lice. They are harmless. And will warm to the smallest gestures of Love and kinship.

    This happened last week and I’m still bothered by it…


    • When I lived in Southern California, I noticed a very thin man at the light on the center divider in an extremely busy intersection. I was driving a school bus, most of the time, and of course, couldn’t stop. I saw his sign, “Have cancer, please help.”
      The man looked like he had cancer. His skin was gray, his body thin. It hurt my heart every time i saw him. One day, he was gone.
      The ache never goes away. We’ll always remember each and every single human being and animal we see in need or despair.
      My husband and I even carry dog food around with us, for the pets of the homeless.

  3. Ditto for me, seapunk2. Ditto for me.

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