Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cancer propaganda hate

Here's why I hate the rosy portrait of cancer survival you see everywhere nowadays.
1. it's a lie, medically speaking. Survival means you made it 5 years. That's not the same thing as being cured. Doctors use that artificial milestone to make themselves look better. Don't believe me? Google it.
2. Cancer treatment center ads make it sound like if you do the right things, or go to the right center, or spend the right money on the right doctor, you will be cured. (Therefore, it's your fault if you're not. A little bit your fault. Or maybe a lot, but you're dead and also you can't sue us.)
3. They make it sound like cancer isn't such a big deal. It's curable! Look away, and forget there are causes. Causes that you as one person have very, very little control over. Look how healthy random former patient looks now! They're eternally indebted to us for saving them! (It's still your fault.)
4. So what if the environment is so toxic that you lose the cancer lottery, it's NBD! We don't have to regulate, we can just fix the random outliers who succumb to it. Plus sunshine can give you cancer! The cancer centers and societies might as well be bankrolled by the very corporations that are destroying the air, land and food and water supply-- oh wait, they are!!
5. Come to our center and spend everything you got. Did we bankrupt you? No worries, we can use you to blackmail your family, too. And your neighbors, your community, entire nations of running, walking, telethoning suckers.
6. Special hate goes out to the meme that cancer is a lottery, and it's just your bad luck you got it. There are causes, and we are making more of them every day. Eating them, drinking them, pouring them into the world around us. Shirley Jackson wouldn't need to edit much.
7. One more thing: cancer doctors who treat patients like experimental animals because, hey, they're going to die anyway. They don't state this to you overtly when you're in their facility. But they think it, and they act on it. Worse, they don't really know why you're sick, and they don't really know how the shit they pour into you or cut out of you changes that, or for how long, or what it's going to do to you afterward. All they know is you have no other option but to die.

But then, I'm not the most objective person in the world.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Why I cried today

Today I ran into a beautiful person I haven't seen in two decades at least. Her name is Carol. I don't know if I've ever known her last name. She was one of the moms at the playground in Washington Square Park when my kids were little. We recognized each other over the vegetable bins at the Whole Foods store in mutual disbelief. We both blurted out how we'd thought of each other recently, then shared the explanatory anecdote. Then she asked me about Jesse.
There is a thing you do, when you know about loss, to help each other not cry in public, while still communicating the depth of sorrow and sympathy you share. It's the secret face of womanhood.

The reason I love her is that I was nursing my son in the playground one day, and an extremely well dressed man came over to me and started verbally abusing me for doing so. I didn't know Carol, but she walked over to defend me just as I held up my hands, one arm cradling my son's head against my breast, middle fingers extended and told him, "Like fruit? Have a pair!"

Monday, October 27, 2014

Working things out in dreamland

Last night I dreamed I had been told I have 4 days to live. So the very first day, I made a list of all my assets, from bank accounts and 401k right down to items of clothing, and who should get each one. I wanted to be sure no one would be stuck with the burden of sorting it all out. The next day, I had my family all around me, and began to tell them I had 3 days left. I wasn't sad, or angry, just wanted to be sure they knew I loved them, and that they would be okay. Then a doctor walked in and told me that I actually only had one day left. Still I felt no fear, no sorrow, no senes of loss.  I was glad they were there to hear it, and to understand what was happening. I went around the room hugging everyone and saying goodbye. The first person who came to say goodbye was Jesse.

Monday, August 4, 2014

An evaluation of options for the drowning.

Therapy patient: help! I’m drowning!
 Family: Why can’t you stop drowning! Nobody else is drowning!
Western Religion: Stop drowning!
Eastern Religion: There is no drowning; there is only drowning
Psychoanalysis: How long have you felt you were drowning?
Gestalt psychology: Maybe drowning is where you need to be right now.
Short term behavioral therapy: What strategies have you used in the past to avoid drowning?
Psychiatry: here are some pills that will help you forget you’re drowning.
Recovery movement: you can save yourself from drowning!

Cognitive behavioral therapy: try feeling for the bottom with your feet. Too deep? Try floating on your back. Did that work? Good. Now try floating on your back and kicking your legs. Good.  The shore is about 20 feet away. Point yourself that way and keep kicking.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Religion vs morality

I took the Catholic religion *very* seriously when I was a kid. My parents and grandparents on both sides were deeply religious, without any religious hypocrisy to point to in their lives. They didn't leave it in church in the least. But for me, by the time I hit high school/college, the "truths" of religion meant less and less to me, so that by 21 I believed that religion was a crutch for people who had trouble having a relationship with God. So I raised my kids without a religion. We made sure they knew and respected the history and beliefs of the major religions, but in the process of teaching them how to make good moral choices in life, I began to see that what everyone was calling God was kind of a false idea.

It seemed false to me to pray for anything except acceptance of God's will. Praying to God for your life on earth, when heaven was supposed to be so much better, seemed wrong. I tried to believe in an intercessory God that you could petition to avert disaster, but when my sister in law died and another in law declared it was because she didn't pray right, I began to see the contradiction: either you are a servant of God's will, or you are trying to manipulate God. Either you in your pride think you are better than those who suffer in this world, or you humbly accept what God sends your way, and devote your life to helping others who are less fortunate.

I could go on about this, but the point was: who did I want to be, and what moral tools did I want my children to have? They both, as they hit their teens, told me they were atheists. At first it scared me, but it didn't change who they were. They were making mistakes like any teen, but they were good people, making themselves better as they grew up. The other atheists in my life were also the most moral, least hypocritical people I knew. They suffered less, spiritually, than those trying to force their religion to fit what they knew was right and wrong.

When Jesse got leukemia the first time, I really believed in the power of prayer and faith. By the time he died, I realized that it's an illusion. Nowadays I see atheism being used as a political definition, or even as a kind of religion. So maybe I should call myself something else. Non-theist, maybe.