That Which Hurts Me

Years ago, when I was a young writer struggling to make a living at my chosen profession, I had a piece of paper thumb-tacked onto my bulletin board with a typewritten phrase (all of which must sound bizarrely anachronistic to anybody born after 1990) that read: “That which hurts me, but does not kill me, makes me stronger.”

Years later I discovered that it was a bastardization of a famous quote by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzche, from his book Twilight Of The Idols (1888): “Was mich nicht umbringt macht mich stärker.” Roughly translated, it means “What does not kill me makes me stronger.”


I’m not sure who it was that misquoted the old kraut, but for me, at that time, it was exactly what I needed to hear. Regularly. I’m not so sure the actual quote would have had quite the impact. There was something about ‘that which HURTS ME, but does not kill me’ that really resonated for me.

With apologies to Fred, it still does, especially now, when every day is a trial. Because the truth is, cancer treatments suck, but I put up with them because the ultimate goal is to survive that which seeks to kill me. A lot of pain and suffering goes along with those treatments, the kind that is best kept private, so as not to worry others.

If ever the sentiment was appropriate, it would be now. In fact, that same piece of paper – battered and faded – now hangs above my desk at work. Right next to the framed needlepoint that reads: Fuck Cancer. Because the hurt I feel on a daily basis is nothing compared to the hope that one day this will all be over and I will emerge much stronger for the experience.

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