My friend Josh recently posted this editorial in the NYT about a woman’s recent cancer diagnosis and her family. It’s a pretty powerful essay.
She does do a really good job at framing the “cancer experience.” The Just Being of it. I’ve worked with roughly a hundred or so patients on clinical trials and so much of the post diagnosis life becomes that. Even when you hit the five year mark or a complete response on your CTs. There’s that very “neo buddist” live in the present moment thing that you’ll hear occasionally; I can’t imagine anything more miserable. Maybe it’s not so bad if you don’t have cancer, aren’t constantly thinking of what your family will do when you’re gone. The blissful absurdity of human experience is ignoring our finite lives and the constant circles we make down the drain of them. The realizing of how much time we actually had and wasted is better left not thought about. Especially at the end.
I can appreciate the author’s catharsis here having seen it so many times. I understand the importance of it (I even keep a copy of an old patient’s essay she wrote during her dignity therapy because it moved me so).
But I’d tell her we’re far from the end. We’re just getting started.