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[cancer] A social disease - Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2009-05-20 04:38
Subject: [cancer] A social disease
Security: Public
Tags:cancer, family, personal
Thinking more about cancer and what it means to me and everyone around me.

As I observed last year, cancer is a social disease. That is to say, it has an impact far wider than the patient. This is true of all illnesses and injuries, of course. Anyone in pain or danger affects their matrix of family and friends. But there's a special horror to cancer. Almost in the Lovecraftian sense. My body is trying to kill me, literally, and the danger is completely sui generis. This isn't a bacterial or viral invasion, it's not trauma, it's not an external assault or a wounding. It's not a function of a perceived or actual misbehavior or self-maintenance on my part. It's me, attacking myself, at the most fundamental levels.

In that sense, cancer has more in common with diabetes or MS or CP or arthritis. All of those conditions can be crippling, literally or figuratively. Fatal even. But cancer has a hold on the popular imagination that is almost unrivaled. I have looked back over my own fiction and noted how many times I've used the disease as a character element or a plot device or backstory. I don't think I've ever written about diabetes or MS.

There's something terrible about growing your own monsters. A birthing of a potential death. But the hardest part of cancer, based on my experiences last year, is how it affects those around me. Seeing the desperate fear in my mother's eyes when the doctors brought me some of the worst news when I was in the hospital. Watching the misery of my friends. Cancer is not just attacking me, it's attacking everyone who knows or loves me.

We can fight back. We will. This isn't fatal. Hell, the liver problems aren't even fully diagnosed at this point. Other outcomes are possible. The polyps have returned, though, with their malignant little calling cards.

The bitch of this year's New Adventures in Cancer is the sense that it may never end. Now we know it comes back, like some brainless zombie in a B movie. Car accidents only happen once. In my life, and in the lives of those around me, springtime is in danger of becoming cancer season.

I'm going to kill this stupid bastard disease if it's the last thing I ever do.

Originally published at jlake.com.

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Elspeth
User: evaleastaristev
Date: 2009-05-20 12:48 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
*snugs* My heart goes out to you and your family.

And if Spring does turn in to Cancer Season, you'll handle it every year as you handle Adventure 1 and are handling Adventure 2. And everyone around you, all of us who love/care about you in our own ways, will be here to help you through.
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manmela
User: manmela
Date: 2009-05-20 13:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It's the Voldemort of diseases, the disease that dare not be named, the big C.

I suppose (and I know this argument is probably flawed) it's real power to cause fear is that because it can't be blamed on anything: 'bad' genetics, hereditary factors, excessive aspects of living. Whilst all these CAN be factors, unlike many other diseases (and this is where I'll probably be showed to be having a flawed argument) you can be without any of those factors, and it still get you. This gives it an almost supernatural presence. Don't whisper it's name or it will come and get you!

It's like Jason Voorhees or Freddy Krueger. You can be without any of the potential factors outside of your control (i.e. genetics, family history, etc.) and do all the sensible things to protect yourself (i.e. take life in moderation) and yet it can still rise in the middle of the night and strike. There's probably something in the analogy in how Jason or Freddy keep coming back as well that apply to some people as well. Just when you think you're out the woods, he turns out to be the bus driver!

What was gut wrenching for me is that on the same day as you revealed your bad news, my own father was being check for potential abnormalities in his prostate (although in our family it was discussed as a scan and the big C never mentioned). He got the all clear and I can remember guiltily thinking "thank god I'm not having the sort of day Jay and his family are currently having". Human nature I guess.

Anyways, you are still very much in my thoughts, and I am positive you'll turn the above tropes on their head. Sort of like a cancer version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
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User: joycemocha
Date: 2009-05-20 13:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Another factor with cancer is that it can also occur in clusters, with no logical connection. The community in which I work is currently going through a cluster reaction--there have been a lot of cancers locally in the past year, with no known connection. It's to the degree that a local doctor has told all of his workers to get themselves screened to the nth degree, because there's just too much of it.

I had my colonoscopy last year (with a family history, it was encouraging to get an all clear, which follows up on a sigmoidscopy of ten years previous). I'm getting a mammogram in a month, and at my yearly checkup, I plan to have further discussions with my health care provider about anything else I should be doing. I don't live in that community, but I do drink the water and eat local food. Worth the effort.
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mevennen
User: mevennen
Date: 2009-05-20 13:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I know this sounds especially woo-woo (hey, we're witches, what can I say?) but T did at one point actually treat it as an entity. It isn't - as you say, it's part of oneself - but its animating spirit can be regarded as something external and malevolent. Basically, he told it to fuck off because it would die - it was not possible for it to assume flesh, because either it would be killed or it would kill him, in which case, same result.

This may well be a psychological mechanism as much as an occult one.

People who told him that it had a psychological explanation, however (eg: it's in your throat so you're not expressing something) got very short shrift. Part of the annoyance of cancer is the crappy advice you get from well-meaning individuals and I am well aware that I might be falling into the same category in this case. In which instance, let me know!
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kitlizzy: A - Keys
User: kitlizzy
Date: 2009-05-20 13:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:A - Keys
I'm going to kill this stupid bastard disease if it's the last thing I ever do.

Somehow now I have a vision of you captaining a fine ship on the sea, and battling it out with the pirates that are trying to board your vessel and take it over. :)

It's a good image, and it looks like you're kicking their ass from over here.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
User: joycemocha
Date: 2009-05-20 13:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Don't know if Jay does, but I do. Cool story.
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Bob Brown
User: radconbob
Date: 2009-05-20 13:55 (UTC)
Subject: Killing The Bastard
You have captured the true range of the impact. Now make good on the killing of the bastard disease.

Love and best wishes. Bob
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kara_gnome
User: kara_gnome
Date: 2009-05-20 15:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I've never really thought of this before; that cancer has more in common with diabetes or MS or CP or arthritis, but I suppose it does. An odd difference is that I can completely relate with cancer as a monster--it is--but I never really thought of my mom's arthritis as a monster, but it is, too, the way it's changing her.

I believe you will kill the sbd, I have no doubts :)
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A large duck
User: burger_eater
Date: 2009-05-20 15:45 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It's good to see that fighting spirit. Good luck and keep swinging.
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scarlettina: Cancer
User: scarlettina
Date: 2009-05-20 16:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Cancer
That's the spirit. Kick it in the ass!
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Twilight: BackOff (MarvelGirl)
User: twilight2000
Date: 2009-05-20 16:15 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:BackOff (MarvelGirl)
Your attitude is the best - it's all about beating the bastard - whether you're growing your own monsters or are being invaded by aliens - I'll be your cheerleader any day.

Beat it Back
Beat it Back
Waaaaaay Back!
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jackwilliambell
User: jackwilliambell
Date: 2009-05-20 16:35 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm going to kill this stupid bastard disease if it's the last thing I ever do.
Now that's the spirit!
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Michelle Muenzler
User: mmuenzler
Date: 2009-05-20 16:49 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You've got a great attitude and more energy than most anyone I know. Just keep deleting the body spam and keep booting those door-to-door polyps to the street. And if a liver tumor calls, tell it to take you off its damn list. You don't want whatever it is selling.

*hugs*
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mcjulie
User: mcjulie
Date: 2009-05-20 18:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
If it is like a zombie, we can kill it like a zombie. The secret is beer and cricket bats, I believe.

*Over here on your side, got my pint, ready to swing the bat*
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User: aliquoricegirl
Date: 2009-05-20 22:45 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Good man.
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Matthew S. Rotundo: Typewriter
User: matthewsrotundo
Date: 2009-05-20 23:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Typewriter
Hey, don't worry about your friends. We'll deal with our own versions of the Fear on our own time. Don't try to carry that burden, too. We got it.

You've been there for us. This time, we're here for you. OK?
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-05-21 10:35 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thank you. It was good to see you guys this week.
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farmgirl1146
User: farmgirl1146
Date: 2009-05-21 05:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You are battling it. That is wonderful.

Since this new adventure in cancerland happened, I've been thinking about another friend who strayed from dilegence on minding her cancer. She let the Doctors set the standard, and two different doctors screwed up. I don't know if I could do this, because I have the "habit" of avoidance, but keep a close record of what needs to be done. Don't forget about a spot of cancer on an organ (that's one of things that happened to my friend). Keep pushing, but don't be combative. Her partner got combative and everyone else started defending him/herself rather than minding my friend. She told me that she should have put an end to any consideration but the systematic search and destroy mission against her cancer. She said she should have kept tightening the time between check ups if even only a week. Instead of 52 week check up she said she should have done 50 week checkups. When the growth rate increased, she should have done 26 week check ups, then tighted them by 2 weeks.

Another Doctor gave her hormones that increased the growth rate of it.

Because she gave over scheduling of everything to the Doctors, she had a chemo series given two weeks too late.

Things like that really scare me and piss me off. Thinking of her makes me cry.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-05-21 10:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Aggressive and proactive is me.
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