Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"Good" cancers

I've been gone for a long time. Mostly that is because of work--I've had a highly absorbing course to plan and then start teaching. I'm still in the midst of it, and it leaves little time for anything else. A little less, it's because I reached a point of feeling exhausted by the constant recognition of being a cancer survivor. It'll probably never be possible to see cancer as something that happened in the past, like that one embarrassing drunken night in college with my guy friend, which the two of us immediately pretended never happened; or the period of my life when I was unable to have an effective argument because I'd lose track of the logical flow of speech. Those things will never happen again. Cancer might.

Anyway, on that topic (somewhat), here's a blog piece that appeared in the NY Times today, by a guy with prostate cancer who rails against the notion of "good" cancer.

And let me just send a shout-out to a loved one who also has prostate cancer, but on top of that is in the hospital recovering from surgery for lung cancer, which most people would decidedly not call a "good" cancer. He is enormously healthy and I think he is as likely as anyone to beat cancer down again. (He had it once before, over 4 years ago, and was treated successfully with surgery--this is a new primary cancer, not a recurrence.) But again, cancer sucks. It just sucks. It keeps hitting all these damn people I care about, and even if they (we) survive, it still takes things away. Months... Years... Lungs... Breasts... And any illusion that any part of life is the smallest bit fair.

I want to end on that angry note, but I can't. I'm also enormously excited and have to acknowledge the election of Barack Obama. This is a man whose mother and grandmother both died of cancer. He knows the cost. In his infomercial, he said that his mother's death taught him that you have to seize opportunities when they happen, and suggested that that's one reason why he chose to run for President so early. He has a lot of critical priorities and I don't know where cancer falls on his list, but I can't help but feel hope, that this President really understands what a scourge cancer is, and how unfair and brutal it is, and how we absolutely must defeat it. Now that's a war I can get behind.


Anonymous said...

So have you ever thought of your cancer as a "good" cancer, or have you been mocking that concept since day 1 of this blog? In either case, it's always great to hear from you, via this medium or any other.

Lori said...

I've enjoyed reading your blog this morning. I am a fellow breast cancer warrior, having been diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer just this past April. Fortunately (for them!), nobody has ever told me that I have "good cancer," but I have a friend with thyroid cancer that was told that - by her oncologist! (She told me that she wanted to knee him in the groin.)

I'm happy that you are cancer free, and pray that you will continue to be so. Thanks for the honestly transparent post!