Friday, January 29, 2010

The whole cancer thing

When the kids were little, right after I left their dad, they belonged to various ball clubs, Little League and soccer mostly. When my ex wasn't actively trying to mess with me on the sidelines, I'd sit with the other mothers and watch the kids play. Mostly we just shared mom things, but as we got to know each other, confidences slipped out. One in particular was from a woman who lived not too far from me. She had a son the same age as College was at the time -- so six I think. She had a car too, and would sometimes give us a ride if the game was too far away.

The confidence came after we dropped her car off at the garage one afternoon. Apparently she'd had a brain tumor removed about a year before, her husband had left her for a younger woman without brain tumors and was a real ass about spending time with their bewildered son. And now she was experiencing blurred vision and pain in the general location where the tumor had been removed. At the time, nothing was wrong with Jesse. I was sympathetic, and offered to help out when she needed it. I think she just felt relieved to talk about it to another adult. It probably helped to tell on her abandoning jerk husband too.

She never really did move past that moment of revelation, never asked me for anything. I was kind of relieved, not realizing then that most people who offer help don't really mean it, and she was probably assuming I was one of them. I would have done whatever I could. Past the point of it being a pain to accomplish.

I thought of her when Jesse relapsed. I didn't want to be someone whose life was ruined by cancer. I didn't want Jesse to be defined by cancer. It didn't quite sink it that I had no choice. That he had no choice. That it was all headed down the sinkhole. I didn't want to be standing on a street corner in Manhattan, deluging someone I barely knew with the horrible reality of living with cancer. Even now I'd rather use another word.

When I see those ridiculous tv ads for cancer clinics that show happy cancer patients who write defiant letters to cancer, I seize up inside. It's all such a phony Disneyesque prettification of the slow motion horror that has become this person's life. The prostitution of their disease for the profits of the clinic that's making money by not finding a cure, just a very expensive way to postpone death.

1 comment:

  1. I have an insides that is most like a mosaic. Of tiny stones and tiles. Different shapes.

    Many times the interactions, events and connections with others are like a perfectly shaped piece that fits into my inner life.

    Into a spot I hadn't realized was missing it's piece.

    In that way I find inspiration and encouragement from others.

    But it's hard to convey.


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