It seems to be all around me. I don't know if it's because I am getting older and more aware, or if it's because there are more cases of it, or that I've just been 'unlucky' to have had more contact with it recently.
My wife had it two years ago and is in remission. My mom just got operated and had it taken out. My friend's mom just passed away because of it. The couple who my kids adopted as their third set of grandparents both got diagnosed with it. A close friend of my father (and the man who married my wife and I) will soon lose his wife to it.
It is an insidously spreading, often-don't know-you-have-it-until-it's-too-late, never-sure-if-it's-gone, playing-the-odds disease.
And the more I ponder on cancer and its treatement, the more I see it as a paradox. Here's how:
- It is the only illness that the treatment (chemo) is actually worse than the disease itself
- It is really just too much of a good thing (cells proliferate too much)
- It is the treatment's goal to kill everything good to make sure it gets all the bad
- Everybody has varying degrees of it
- When one has it, it seems everyone has a thought about what we should do, and most have no idea what they are talking about
- Scanning for it too often may actually provoke it
- Once you're done the treatment, there is a sword of Damocles for years hanging over one's head
- We know next-to-nothing about it. We are still learning, it's not an exact science, and it keeps us humble
There is, however, something beautiful I have discovered when you are a part of those affected by it. When you talk to patients and survivors, to the cancer community, there are no pretentions, no masks, no hypocrisy. What you see truly is what you get. I desperately wish is that we could extend this openness and honesty to everyone without the necessity of going through a horrible cancer.
xkcd brilliantly put his own learnings on cancer in the cartoon below or here.
Everything you never wanted to know about the author is on this web site : www.jeanfahmy.com