Friday, May 14, 2010

The audacity of trope: cancer stories

Sad news this week: one friend diagnosed, another deceased. Both women extraordinary healers and yet vulnerable. I expected to get all political up in here but maybe there is room alongside my customary reasoned discourse for some emotional display.

The New York Times probably got a shock -- I
know I did -- when the comments section accompanying its photo montage Picture Your Life After Cancer began to fill with the malaise, grief and anger of survivors.
If I get one more mailing/solicitation involving PINK RIBBONS I’ll scream!
-- Rosanne Soifer

I cannot forget what I went through, both physically and psychologically, although I do not dwell on these events. They are more like the glasses through which I see life. --Jay Kalish
Life after cancer 
"I told myself a story," my grief-stricken friend said, "that J was sick, sure, that she had cancer. She was getting treatment and she would get better and we would see her again." This did not happen. We did not see J again, we were not able to say goodbye. But it is reasonable to tell oneself that story: 11.4 million Americans living and working among us have survived cancer.

Some, like Raphael Pope Sussman, use the Internet to tell their stories. I titled this post with a nod to his blog The Audacity of Pope. There are hundreds of cancer stories online; his attests to his youth and sense of humor.

Before my diagnosis, I never found my life to be wholly funny or wholly serious. And that hasn't changed at all.

What can change 
We all want serenity, right? "To accept things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference."

I believe we can affect change in at least two important areas of public policy. One is to promote prevention research that examines the cancer-causing potential of environmental toxins. You may have news stories about it last week: the president's Cancer Panel agrees.

The nation needs a comprehensive, cohesive policy agenda regarding environmental contaminants and protection of human health -- Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk (a 240-pg PDF)

The second important change needs to come in treatment research. This week I watched an amazing video produced by the American Association for Cancer Research. It cites a study that found 85% of patients were interested in clinical trials. Only 9% received information about them and only 3-4% end up participating. Not good enough.

What changes do you think are most important in our approach to cancer?

1 comment:

Raphael said...

Hey Eve,

Just wanted to thank you for the mention on the blog. I'm glad to hear it resonated with you and I hope your sharing it can be helpful to some.