Article Talk: Things Could Be Worse: A Cancer Survivor's Tribute to the Victims of Gun Violence

Started by Sb4, February 24, 2018
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Sb4

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February 24, 2018
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Sb4

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Posted on
February 24, 2018
I have debated this very concept with myself, and I have felt two sides. When I have seen the trillions spent to prevent a few terrorist attacks it makes me wonder how many lives those trillions could have been saved if spent on cancer research. When I watched all the sympathy pour out for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, I wondered if anyone really could comprehend the form of terror that is the Russian roulette of my wife waiting for her CA125 test results every month which could signal her death sentence. When my wife got her cancer, I stopped fearing terrorism because dying in a sudden explosion seemed tame to me compared to the slow, progressive battering that characterizes cancer\'s murderous path and would qualify as torture if perpetrated by an individual.\r\n\r\nOkay, that\'s the melodramatic version. In reality, my wife (through courage and bravery I doubt I could match) and I found ways to live with her diagnosis and rewire our perspectives and priorities and find many, many joyous times on her journey which sadly ended in May of 2017. But we were not spiritual gurus -- I know we both carried a great load of worry, apprehension, and tension and the wear and tear was felt. Because of medical treatments, we were able to take a journey that would have been impossible in the case of an act of terrorism which catches you unprepared and leaves you with important unfinished business. Yet I know there were times where my normal worries of my wife dying suddenly, say in a traffic accident, without suffering were mitigated by the feeling that it would seem almost like an act of mercy compared to what I feared would be her expected path, even thought it would deprive me of more time with her.\r\n\r\nIt seems clear that society reacts to what is abnormal rather than what is actual. In our society, terrorist acts are rare enough that they generate outrage. In the Middle East, I\'m sure they are equally horrifying but don\'t create the same outcry for action because they are almost the norm, although the same amount of expenditure could probably prevent more terror related deaths in the Middle East than here in America. Likewise, cancer is a societal norm, we have been living with cancer since the beginning of time -- we see it as part of the rhythm of life and death and don\'t have any sense of urgency for a call to action, even though expenditures could surely, especially in this age of molecular biology, save or prolong many many lives.\r\n\r\nAnother factor is ageism -- cancer is a disease of older people. To put it bluntly, society values young people more than old people, perhaps with valid reason. For for the older person with cancer, the threat of death is still very scary and suffering is very real, I can testify to that. I\'m sure a justification for shrugging shoulders is that older people have already lived life, they don\'t have as much to lose. And no doubt we are hard-wired by biology to see our offspring as our genetic progeny that must be protected even more fiercely than ourselves, so acts of terror against young people evoke a much more dramatic response than against the population in general. Still, our outrage and horror at deaths by terrorism and our desire to commit resources to prevent it at any cost are not rational when considered in a strategy to reduce deaths overall.\r\n\r\nThose are but a few of the arguments that I have debated in my head when confronting the idea of \"it could be worse\". I\'m still not sure how I feel, but I will say that I think that cancer patients deserve very special consideration for a really, really tough lot, and that I\'m not sure if my wife had died in a terrorist attack I would feel that she had been victimized more severely than by her diagnosis of cancer. Of course I would be enraged by what I would consider a possibly preventable event, but perhaps now many cancer deaths could be seen as preventable if only if we were willing to commit equivalent expenditure measures to them. And are destructive acts by rogue individuals truly preventable, or will they always be a fact of life, a statistical anomaly equivalent to the random mutation of a DNA nucleotide by an oxidant?\r\n\r\nI feel the same horror at the school shootings as everyone else, but I have also seen cancer close up. Both groups deserve great sympathy, understanding and support.\r\n\r\n
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Sb4

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Posted on
February 24, 2018
I have debated this very concept with myself, and I have felt two sides. When I have seen the trillions spent to prevent a few terrorist attacks it makes me wonder how many lives those trillions could have been saved if spent on cancer research. When I watched all the sympathy pour out for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, I wondered if anyone really could comprehend the form of terror that is the Russian roulette of my wife waiting for her CA125 test results every month which could signal her death sentence. When my wife got her cancer, I stopped fearing terrorism because dying in a sudden explosion seemed tame to me compared to the slow, progressive battering that characterizes cancer's murderous path and would qualify as torture if perpetrated by an individual. Okay, that's the melodramatic version. In reality, my wife (through courage and bravery I doubt I could match) and I found ways to live with her diagnosis and rewire our perspectives and priorities and find many, many joyous times on her journey which sadly ended in May of 2017. But we were not spiritual gurus -- I know we both carried a great load of worry, apprehension, and tension and the wear and tear was felt. Because of medical treatments, we were able to take a journey that would have been impossible in the case of an act of terrorism which catches you unprepared and leaves you with important unfinished business. Yet I know there were times where my normal worries of my wife dying suddenly, say in a traffic accident, without suffering were mitigated by the feeling that it would seem almost like an act of mercy compared to what I feared would be her expected path, even thought it would deprive me of more time with her. It seems clear that society reacts to what is abnormal rather than what is actual. In our society, terrorist acts are rare enough that they generate outrage. In the Middle East, I'm sure they are equally horrifying but don't create the same outcry for action because they are almost the norm, although the same amount of expenditure could probably prevent more terror related deaths in the Middle East than here in America. Likewise, cancer is a societal norm, we have been living with cancer since the beginning of time -- we see it as part of the rhythm of life and death and don't have any sense of urgency for a call to action, even though expenditures could surely, especially in this age of molecular biology, save or prolong many many lives. Another factor is ageism -- cancer is a disease of older people. To put it bluntly, society values young people more than old people, perhaps with valid reason. For for the older person with cancer, the threat of death is still very scary and suffering is very real, I can testify to that. I'm sure a justification for shrugging shoulders is that older people have already lived life, they don't have as much to lose. And no doubt we are hard-wired by biology to see our offspring as our genetic progeny that must be protected even more fiercely than ourselves, so acts of terror against young people evoke a much more dramatic response than against the population in general. Still, our outrage and horror at deaths by terrorism and our desire to commit resources to prevent it at any cost are not rational when considered in a strategy to reduce deaths overall. Those are but a few of the arguments that I have debated in my head when confronting the idea of "it could be worse". I'm still not sure how I feel, but I will say that I think that cancer patients deserve very special consideration for a really, really tough lot, and that I'm not sure if my wife had died in a terrorist attack I would feel that she had been victimized more severely than by her diagnosis of cancer. Of course I would be enraged by what I would consider a possibly preventable event, but perhaps now many cancer deaths could be seen as preventable if only if we were willing to commit equivalent expenditure measures to them. And are destructive acts by rogue individuals truly preventable, or will they always be a fact of life, a statistical anomaly equivalent to the random mutation of a DNA nucleotide by an oxidant? I feel the same horror at the school shootings as everyone else, but I have also seen cancer close up. Both groups deserve great sympathy, understanding and support.
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Sb4

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Posted on
February 24, 2018
Sorry, I posted twice because of strange formatting in the first submission. I thought I could delete the first one, but can't find a way.
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penquinhead

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Posted on
February 25, 2018
I agree cancer is not the worst thing that can happen to anyone. Dying needlessly at the hands of a psycho with a submachine gun is. Many people who are dx with cancer are a lot older than the victims of the Parkland shooting. Godspeed Parkland. Praying for peace and healing.
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