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Cancer Talk

Cancer Talk #3: Why Cancer Talks? To Embrace the Idea of the Happy Warrior.


Portrait by Benjamin Robert Hayden of William Wordsworth, author of Character of the Happy Warrior

These Cancer Talk posts are selfish. There’s no altruism behind them; no sappy sense of “If I help just one other person then maybe my experience will have been worthwhile.” See Cancer Talk #1: Framing and Perspective.

I’m writing these posts for me. I find writing to be cathartic, therapeutic, and educational. It helps me to process experiences and emotions; come to grips with them, understand them, make peace with them.

My writing started out as a way for me to sort out my own thinking about ideology, politics, and the inner workings of why we humans do the silly things we do.  I’d experience an intuition, a sense, a feeling, about something I saw in the social and moral realm, and I’d try to put that feeling into words for publishing on this blog.  The prospect that another person might read my thoughts forced me to think them through in a way I might not otherwise would have. The process of trying to articulate my intuitions and ideas in a way that others might understand helps me to figure out what I believe, which in turn helps me to better understand the world and to situate myself within it.

I’m hoping that these Cancer Talk posts will help me get my head around my health situation, both physical and mental, in the same way my other posts helped me to get a (better) grip on morality, ideology, and politics. I imagine these posts may one day coalesce into some sort of a diary of the intellectual and emotional journey I’ll be on for the next few years. But at the moment there’s no plan to it; no pre-determined intellectual or emotional arc. My only aim is to document what I’m thinking and feeling at the moment.

I’ve recently learned of the concept of honoring our feelings as a way to cope with difficult situations and to work our way through them in a healthy way.

It’s important to honor our feelings, to treat them with respect and to not judge ourselves for having them. Even embarrassing feelings, or hateful ones, or angry ones. We can honor our feelings without acting on them immediately because when you own your feelings, you have self-discipline and can allow feelings to pass in and out of you until you feel ready to act on them. Or not. Learning to honor our feelings teaches us to honor ourselves.

That’s what these cancer talk blog posts are about.

We live in a world full of relationships, not a world full of objects. It’s the connections we have with each other, and with our own internal humanity, from which we gain meaning, fulfillment, and happiness. So maybe these cancer talks will help with that, too.

That said, another aspect of what I’m going through is particularly rewarding. The experience of dealing with cancer is intellectually and emotionally fascinating, in a positive, mind-opening, perspective-widening, life-affirming sort of way. I feel blessed, weird as that may seem, to find myself in the situation I’m in. I am privileged to be able to see the world through this lens.

I’m blessed in another way as well. The type of cancer I have is slow-moving. At the moment I’m symptom-free. It’ll be years, maybe around 7 or so, barring medical breakthroughs, before it kills me. So I have the luxury of time that many people don’t have. I can use that time to sort through it all and to say and do the things that, having done the sorting, seem most important.

The luxury of time gives me a better chance to gain even more time. Medical breakthroughs are happening all the time. My newest treatment plan, if my insurance agrees to pay for it, is a case in point. It was approved by the FDA just six weeks ago, on July 30, 2019.  It could buy me a couple extra years, during which time still more options might become available.

So, anyway, these Cancer Talk blog posts are about me. They’re a consciously chosen mechanism through which I hope to cope with whatever’s next by facing it head-on and assimilating it into my life so I can face whatever’s after that, and after that, with the positive, resilient, attitude of a happy warrior.

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