We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our strange pop culture has a habit of identifying, or labelling, "victims," and then idealizing them. I think of this sort of thing as an extension ad absurdum of Marxist victim- and oppression-seeking, but I could be wrong about that. Anyway, we posted on the topic of idealizing the cancer victim patient in Pinkapalooza Debunked.
Today, a Psychiatrist with cancer discusses Two Stories we Tell Ourselves about Cancer - "The Fighter" and "The Hero's Journey." He points out that these dramatic narratives may help some people cope with their fear and pain, but the truth is that having cancer simply sucks and messes up one's life.
I believe it is the people without cancer who enjoy these comforting narratives. Those with cancer know better.
Somewhat similar mythologizing of disabilities and Special Education, etc. By idealizing the conditions or parents grappling with kids with them as "Special" (gag me w a maggot), one can keep them at a distance and stifle their legitimate gripes about how much said conditions do, indeed, suck. For sufferer and family alike. Because "special" people are supposed to suck it up. ;ust as cancer patients are unfairly expected to develop a Buddhist equanimity and wisdom about life. Gimme a break! When faced w losing it?! It reminds me of foot binding in ancient Japan.
For the record, losing your spouse sucks more than most people can imagine. We do whatever we can do deal with it. But it's something that is completely unimaginably painful, unless you've dealt with it.
Part of the myth is that if you fight hard enough, you can beat cancer (look at Lance Armstrong! he lived because he FOUGHT!) and if you give up, you'll die. So if cancer kills you, it's just because you didn't fight hard enough and it's all your fault.
Lance Armstrong is pretty clear in his books that some people live, some people die, and there's no apparent reason for it. If you take the lesson from it that if you fight you'll win like Lance, you probably didn't read the book. That said, nobody ever beat cancer by lying back and thinking of England.
The cancer "hero" mythology has long been a pet peeve of mine. Now, patients with cancer can demonstrate many admirable character traits: longsuffering, endurance, joy in suffering, determination. All good things -- and character traits which typically pre-date the battle with cancer, in those who respond thusly to its challenges.
But being a "hero" because you are undergoing treatment to keep yourself from dying? How emblematic of our current narcissism: we are heroes for saving our own skin.
"...we are heroes for saving our own skin." Narcissistic? Oh, please. Would falling on a borrowed sword do? People who say such as: "joy in suffering" is an admirable trait need their heads examined. So do those who find joy in suffering.
I'll tell you who is a hero in my book. My mother. She'd throw up at those mamby-pamby 'many admirable character traits' you describe. I nursed her for two years as she slowly died of cancer, and not once, not once did she utter a word of whining or complaint. We laughed as we both stood naked in the shower because she couldn't stand alone, and the night I put the second fentanyl patch on her back, we got into a laughing fit that had us both howling. I lay with her as she died and told her what a great mother she had been.
Grace. That's what it's all about. It is not about some fucking, broad sweeping label about our current fucking narcissism.
"How emblematic of our current narcissism: we are heroes for saving our own skin"
What the hell is your problem, Dr. Bob?
We should just lie down and accept death then... what a put-down you place on those who strive for life.
Yes... hero is a much overused term... in many walks of life. But to denigrate someone who's personal courage causes them to fight... even when knowing their battle may well be futile... well, what an ass you seem.
Exactly what meaning does that appellation in front of your name have for you?
Although one thing about Lance does need to be added. His work on behalf of cancer research and treatment efforts, to help beat the disease and help those suffering with it, is heroic. A jock with millions can withdraw. He puts it all out there and busts his butt to make a difference, mostly for people he has never met. Doping questions and issues with his personal life are flaws he has to deal with; what he's doing to beat cancer is heroic, as in brave, arduous, unnecessary, and performed on behalf of others.
The succession of hot blondes he's been linked to is also pretty noteworthy, but that's more in the category of "amazing" or "epic" rather than "heroic."