Monday, January 27, 2014

Time Magazine - Bill Saporito

I am delighted to read "Time" Magazine as a source of news.  I enjoy the "commentary" section the most.  These are opinions that are most definitely shaped and sized to fit the author's view.  I have quit watching news on television or in the newspaper.  I do NOT wish to hear about the rapes in the state, or the murders, or the horrific car accidents.  It's not a matter of denial...I KNOW THEY EXIST.  Instead it's a question of where I choose to place MY focus.

"Time" does cover some rather gritty ideas in their magazine from time to time.  Yet their "gritty" stories are usually tempered by a point, counterpoint of the issues.  I will always wish to see both sides of any idea before I make a judgment.

Bill Saporito's commentary is called "When to Live-Blog Your Cancer."  The title seems cold and callous to my viewpoint.  A discussion of someone's "right" to blog about this incredibly pivotal journey?

Nonetheless my interest was piqued.  The first line says, "Cancer is great material to work with."  He uses as an example the comic Tig Notaro's method of introduction to an audience, "Hello, I have cancer, how are you?"

I have battled breast cancer myself.  The unfortunate reality of our world today is that cancers of all types are more prevalent than during my parents generation.  Gratefully, we also have better weapons to fight the battle against cancer.  I understand "Hangman's Humor."  This is the ability to find things humorous in the darkest times of the human experience.  Studies have been done to show that humor has actual medical benefits.  To my way of thinking, "Really, you spent how much money drawing a conclusion that is completely obvious on the face of it?"

At the beginning I was all prepared to be offended by Mr. Saporito's article.  Again, to me it seemed cold and calloused.  He saved himself in the first paragraph by claiming his own battle with cancer.

"Hangman Humor," is a strong attempt to embolden the human spirit.  Believe me when you are in the trenches of the cancer battle you need all the weapons that you can get.  However, Cancerthrivers, (A term that I have coined..."Thrive, Don't Just Survive" is the title of my newest novel, soon to be released in publication), are quickly offended by anyone being humorous when they are NOT a member of this dark sister and brother hood.  Let me repeat this idea in different words, "Making jokes about cancer when you have NEVER had the disease is NOT funny."

Mr. Saporito discusses specifically Lisa Adam's blog about her battle with stage IV breast cancer.  I am grateful for Lisa Adam's courage in sharing her journey.  Her willingness to be vulnerable and open about her experience frees others to also share.  I am amazed and blessed to know that sharing your cancer battle strengthens you.  There is great strength in knowing that you are NOT alone!  Here is a visual.  The battle is fierce, you are in your foxhole fighting against an entire platoon of infantrymen.  You are fighting so zealously that you do not realize for a long time that both of your buddies sharing your foxhole are dead.  Your entire squadron lies dead...and you are alone to battle.

If this idea seems a trite melodramatic I hope that it explains the need to share your battle.  There is oh so much strength in support.  Think of the famous Alcoholics Anonymous "buddy" system.  Each and every person is assigned someone to support them in their battle against their addiction. 

I wish that there was a "buddy system" incorporated into our medical treatment of cancer.  This is a battle that is best fought in a platoon, instead of solo.  Lisa Adam's blogging gives her a wider sense of support.  In addition, as she battles, she enables others who may not have a broad sense of support to feel less alone.  Struggle is universal but shared it becomes easier to bear.  There might even be snippets of joy tucked in the struggle waiting to be found.

I am aware that most medical conditions have support groups that you may attend.  On the other hand when I was battling cancer the radiation made me so sick that it was wondrous on the days I felt well enough to wash the dishes, launder dirty clothes, or play outside with our two young daughters.  I never felt well enough to get dressed, drive to somewhere new, and then meet a large group of strangers.  Reading was one of my means of reaching out to others sharing this struggle.  There was no internet, no blogs to read. 

Mr. Saporito contends at the end of his article that cancer "Is a battle that we are still losing."  I agree, and disagree.  We may be losing in the battle for curing people of cancer.  On a personal level I do not ever wish to view death at the end of a well lived life as a LOSS.  It's a loss to the bereaved family, and friends grieving over the separation that death creates.

Death after a well lived life is NOT a loss of the battle.  We all will die.  Dying is a part of life.  It is not a part of life that naturally imbues great joy in the heart of the dying, or their loved ones.  (Unless they are unhealthy mentally, but that would be an entirely different sort of post).  I can not bear to think of dying from cancer as losing a battle.  Instead I think of it as a different type of winning.  The release of our soul from a diseased riddled body...that is victory...just a victory of a different type.

Thank you Mr. Saporito for writing an article that stretched my mind.  We all need mental aerobics as much as we need physical aerobics.  My brain is less flabby now!

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