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Playing the hand I've been dealt.



These last few days haven't exactly been the best of days. I can name at least a hundred things I would have rather done than yesterday morning's adventure, and that's without trying too hard, and possibly without duplicates.

Cancer is an overloaded word. Given its place in our collective psyche, it's an ugly word, too. To our youth and health obsessed culture at large, the word means illness, badness, age and death to some degree. It also comes with some sort of judgement: lung cancer - you must have smoked; colon cancer - you must have eaten the wrong foods; prostate cancer - you must not have masterbated enough; skin cancer - you must have been outside without sunscreen on. There's an inherent implication that the cancer is the fault of its owner: if only they had done X, they wouldn't have cancer.

What a bunch of bullshit.

Step back and unload the word. Cancer is a group of cells which decided not to die. Nearly all cells in the body are specialized to do a small number of tasks, live for a while doing those tasks, then die. Sometimes, changes happen in those cells which enable the cells to continue living. During that extended lifetime, these not-dying-yet cells steal resources from the body to continue to live and multiply , often growing into a large mass or otherwise changing just enough to disrupt the rest of the cells around it.

That's it.

Take away all the fear, all the guilt, all the judgements, all the tragedy associated with the word cancer, and you have a bunch of rogue cells that aren't dying. Catch them early, and you have a good chance of getting rid of those rogue cells and continuing on with living.

It's that "continue on with living" part that intrigues me.

What part of having cancer means "stop living?" With all the fear associated with the word cancer, with that god damned overloaded term, everything stops until it's dealt with. Lives are put in order because you don't know what's going to happen next, and deal with the rogue cells. Find them, eliminate them without doing too much harm, and THEN start living again.

As if always wondering if it'll come back, if being ever vigilant, if being fearful for the rest of your days is living.

All of live is uncertain. Having a bunch of rogue cells doing their own thing doesn't mean a death sentence for the body, but it can be devastating for the mind. Always wondering... always checking... always obssessing... always dominating conversations because that's all you think about.

What a crappy way to live.

I choose not to live that way.

So, I'm going to play the cards dealt to me. I can't say I'm now imprevious to random outbursts of tears. I also can't say that I don't just want to have someone else take care of me instead of "soldiering on."

What I can say is that there are smiles to make, joys to experience, plants to plants, dogs to walk, sites to build, bills to pay, work to be done and a boy to snuggle. I can stop briefly, perhaps to cry, but after that, I'll play the next card.


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