Coming Around For Another Bite

Two Novembers ago it took my father. In September it took my wife. Now it wants my dog. I hate cancer. Why won’t it leave us alone? I am reminded of the quote from Christopher Hitchens who, when confronting his cancer diagnosis wrote, “To the dumb question “Why me?” the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply: why not?” So it is with my family. And so it goes.

Susan Sontag warns us of anthropomorphizing cancer, but it is so easy to do. Without a face, your foe it is that much harder to fight. What made Jaws so powerful was that the animatronic shark kept breaking forcing Steven Spielberg to come up with other ways to present the omnipresent danger through the use of camera movements and ominous music. The unseen monster is far worse than the seen. So we put a face on cancer and try to fight it from the outside while it destroys us from within.

So now we are awaiting the results of the biopsy which will tell us if the tumor is malignant. If it is, we will be faced with the difficult decision of what to do next. At twelve years of age, my wonderful dog has already battled cancer twice, had both back knees rebuilt, and had his eye repaired in Chicago. He’s been through it all. And yet his only concern in life is that he loves us. We will be faced with the difficult answer to the question: for whom are we going to submit him to more medical treatment? If it is for him, we will proceed, cost be damned. If it is for us, we will need to regroup and face the ultimate question of when is more surgery, radiation, and recovery too much for him leading to the inevitable decision whether to put him down. But I’m ahead of myself. We need the biopsy results first. We’ve been down this road before and will make the right decision when we have all of the facts and in spite of the perturbations it will cause.

We will be forced to answer the tough question: for whom are we going to submit him to more medical treatment? If it is for him, we will proceed, cost be damned. If it is for us, we will need to regroup and face the ultimate question of when is more surgery, radiation, and recovery too much for him leading to the inevitable decision whether to put him down. But I’m ahead of myself. We need the biopsy results first. We’ve been down this road before and will make the right decision when we have all of the facts and in spite of the perturbations it will cause.

I hate cancer. Leave us alone. Even sharks need time to digest their latest meal.

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