The other day my friend Gaelen wrote a very thoughtful blog post called The Reluctant (Cancer) Warrior, and asked at the end of it…
Do you like the battle metaphors for cancer, the idea of being a cancer warrior? Do you see living with cancer as a war? What is the cancer metaphor that works for you?
And it came to me that the metaphor that works best for me is the Sword of Damocles. Just hanging there, you know? And you never know when it’s going to fall and take your life away…
All that other “battling warrior fighting” crap is … just crap. It’s an illness fer chrissakes. And mine happens to be terminal. As in – it’s just a question of time. Yes, I could end up with a very long remission this time, maybe even as long as Anne’s (love ya, honey!), which is going on 20 years now. After her docs had given up all hope for her. Or it might end up as fucked up and difficult and complicated as my “cancer bro” Jed’s situation. Or as Gaelen’s, for that matter. Seriously, for someone with stage IV cancer I have – so far – got off rather easy. Well, if you call three major ops and being on chemo twice (all since May 2008) “easy”. But compared to Gaelen & Jed, it’s been a walk in the park.
I just wish people would stop it already with these tired-out and over-used metaphors. Nobody knows why some people survive stage IV cancer and others don’t. To turn it into a “battle” insinuates that if someone dies then they either gave up or hadn’t fought hard enough. Or that Cancer “won”. I hate that. But what I hate worse are people who think they have even the remotest clue as to how I feel and refer to what I am going through as a “journey”. I am very sorry (well okay, I’m not really), but I will not allow anybody to pidgeon-hole my whole messy whack of emotions, strengths and fears into something that they feel comfortable relating to.
Anne said this on my “borrowed time” post ..
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could “donate” time to each other?
Wouldn’t it indeed? And wouldn’t it be even more wonderful – all things considered – if I could do a couple rounds of chemo for Jed and have it count towards his recovery, or have a liver resection for Gaelen (I’m a fiend at recovering fast from ops). Or if someone could wave a magic wand and at least make it so that none of us “battling cancer” ever had to worry about where the money was coming from.
Having said that, I have been so lucky with all the people who have sent donations and who truly made it possible for me to get through – so far – financially. My family hasn’t sent me a dime, yet people I have only met here on my blog, or elsewhere on the internet, have been generous beyond belief. That really blows me away. And I do try to “pay it forward” in any way I can.
I shall now refer you to the Cancer Etiquette post, for those who may have missed it first time round…