If the seven stages of grieving are anything like the seven stages of getting spectacularly grim news about your cancer, then I’m right on schedule:  I am no longer drowning in despair or frozen in shock, but am awash in the turbulent waters of anger.

This is good because it turns out that the upward climb from the bottom of the abyss is steeper and slipperier than at first it looked, and I was starting to slide back down a bit into the darkness of fear and despair.

But then yesterday I got mad.  Figuring out what my next step in fighting this cancer is supposed to be has been incredibly difficult and intimidating and I was feeling frustrated, frightened and unshepherded as I tried to navigate the clinical trial quagmire. And then, just when I was on the verge of crumpling into a heap of hopelessness, my fear and frustration transmogrified into a clear, burning rage.  It was like a blinding spotlight aimed squarely at a system that seems ill-equipped to support a person facing this more-desperate-than-average cancer flummox, and at a disease that targets mothers, fathers, best friends, and daughters instead of just taking out monsters like child molesters and corrupt politicians.

To my surprise I found myself smashing my fist down on the kitchen counter.  I did this about five times.  Then I did it about ten more times.  It may have looked a little silly but it sure felt better than collapsing into tears and being overcome with fear and frustration. I suddenly understood why men kick things when they’re mad, especially things they have just stubbed their toes on. The fist-pounding made me feel less vulnerable, somehow stronger.  Also a tiny bit cro-magnon. And then it started to hurt, so I considered kicking in some drywall, mentally appraising all the walls in our house for smashibility, and wondering if we had an axe…

Next, I had several very clear premonitions of spending the afternoon with blood-soaked towels tied around my limbs while waiting to get stitched up in emerg. Maybe the axe is not such a good option for me.

That’s when I remembered the “Rage Box” that my friend Karen made me.  It is a cardboard box in the garage filled with old chipped cups wrapped in newspaper.  The instructions read as follows: 

1) Place in area where things that break can be thrown. Preferably somewhere that you won’t have to clean up because who the hell wants to do that?

2) Start to feel the rage… run to box, grab mug, throw against floor, SCREAM!

3) Repeat as often as necessary.

4) Call when you need a refill.

I smashed everything in the box out in our back laneway (but did not scream so as to avoid neighbours calling police.)  I smashed some of them twice if they still looked smashable after the first smash. And my god it felt good.  I have already requested a refill for the rage box.

Look out cancer, I’ve just discovered rage, and I like it.



Filed under Living with Breast Cancer

10 responses to “Smashing

  1. Aunty Carol

    A friend of mine at work has cancer and she is in a Clinical Trial with a drug called Evastin. It has been tested in the States for 3 years now. It is well tolerated and she is having few side effects. She has one more round of chemo and then it’s just the Evastin. In all likelihood, your doctors have heard of this but just in case….

    Much love and glad to see that rage


  2. Sue Laco


    I wanted to say that I am thinking of you.

    I came across an interesting article that I thought would interest you.

    “A research team at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research has discovered a natural compound found in marine sponges that reduces the movement of cancer cells. This could be an important breakthrough in stopping the often deadly spread of cancer throughout the body — a process known as metastasis. What’s more, the compound (dubbed sceptrin) is virtually non-toxic.”

    To read the rest of the article go to:

    Hang in there….love to you and your family.


  3. franny

    Right on, get that anger out! How about Karen inventing that “RAGE BOX” Isn’t she brilliant?! I think with the refill though you need to follow instructions and scream as loud as you can. I’m guessing it will feel great. This girl knows what she’s talking about….does she have a website where I can order one?

    Thinking of you all the time Leanne. That spirit of yours gets stronger every day in this battle and that crap, weaker.

  4. Lisa D.

    Ohh, smashing sounds like fun. I would definitely scream next time (no matter what the neighbours think!).

    Lisa D.

  5. Daniel Paquette

    Leanne, you’re such a trooper and a damn good writer. keep up the fight!
    miss your amazing energy,

  6. Celia McBride

    Good for you, Leango. I agree about the screaming (but try yelling/howling — so you don’t hurt your vocal chords) and I’ve done it myself. The key is finding that sound-proof room or remote wilderness area so that you can 100% not worry about what others are going to think. That rage is toxic and it feels so damn good to get it out of the body! It’s transformative, truly.

  7. Mary Lou

    Love the idea of the “rage box”, your friend is brillent. Glad to see you are on the fighting edge again… you are amazing. I give my strength to you to use when you need it.

    Take care,

    Mary Lou

  8. Haike

    You go girl! Keep on smashing and fighting as hard as you can. Your friend Karen….brilliant idea! Your writing is so amazing.

  9. Phoenix Deb

    Oh my god – you know what you need: your own darling little crowbar! I’m on it.

  10. Leanne

    I have just received a refill for my rage box and am about to head out to the laneway to smash a few things. I appreciate all the suggestions and encouragement — especially this week. At a time when I just want to rest and hide away I am facing the huge challenge of staying focused enough to navigate the clinical trial quagmire while trying to confront the fear and keep channeling it into rage. I can smash things, but every now and then I break too. Thanks for being there to help pick up the peices.


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