WARNING: this one is flightline style
It is time to share this cancer patient’s perspective on the “battle with cancer” thingy.
I am not “a fighter,” “a warrior,” or any other noun, adjective, or verb that paints a picture of someone who has trained himself up for a battle with cancer! None of my brothers and sisters in cancer have said to me, “I’m a warrior” either. Even Mom has never called herself a “fighter.”
The only trophy I would accept because I spent time in the cancer space?
THE MOST RELUCTANT PARTICIPANT Award!!!
It is not like I woke up one day and said, “Today is a great day to start my training. I will become the baddest mother fucker in the land, and kick the ever-living shit out of every cancerous element that crosses my path! Get Some… Sempre Fi!!!”
“This cancer is a wicked blight. I will dedicate my remaining days to removing this evil transgression against humanity from the face of the earth, and will make the world a better place to live for all mankind.”
I do not have that much bad assery in me. Nor do I have that much nobility. Nope… never have such emotions welled up in my heart, such words entered my mind, or exited my mouth.
The conversation is much more like:
“Wendy, do I have your permission to die?”
“Then I need to undergo cancer treatment, but I REALLY do not want to do this cuz……...
It is going to hurt...
and I am soft… ...
and I’m a weenie-boy… … …
and a fully certified, self-proclaimed wimp!!! !!! !!! !!!”
I hear no warrior and no fighter in such sentiments.
My service in the Air Force looked like this for 21 years: I prepared and maintained my airplanes, put flight crews on board, and told them to have a good flight and bring my airplane home in one piece… or else! Sounds like a real tough guy, right?
My last five years consisted of teaching leadership and management classes to my peers. Preparing and growing minds is important work, but nothing in there communicates the idea of being a warrior. “Stop: or I will grade your paper again!!!!”
The warriors who do battle in the cancer space are doctors and engineers in lab coats. They train. They study. They take cancer apart at the molecular level, discovering every nuance of a cancer cell in an attempt to reduce cancer’s impact on the human race. These are the creators who make the tools their forward deployed battle buddies use in the war against cancer.
The oncologists effectively employ the tools designed to combat the cancer cells as well as use all non cancer related skills and tools to deal with the side effects of cancer treatment. These are the people on hard alert 24 / 7… cuz side effects flare up when they’re damn good and ready. My Wendy and this Reluctant Participant have been blessed by the presence of these warriors and fighters. They are committed to their craft and we’re glad they are fighting for us. Finally… there are the emotional mercenaries (that is meant in a good way)!!!
The nurses and staff members who engage with all the Reluctant Participants as they suffer the side effects. They hug family members who are powerless to do anything to relieve their loved ones’ pains and ailments… all that schooling and training, and a hug is the only treatment they can offer. But this is at the core of the human experience, a gesture of sympathy, and a sign of support and unity in trying times. They are equally tender and tough emotional warriors that stand beside this Reluctant Participant and family members as we all endure our time in the cancer space. Sock Swag is about these women and men… those who are deep in the muck and mire of the human experience known as “suffering.”
I know some of my brothers and sisters in cancer have been to the brink of death, and have returned to tell the tale. They are warriors and fighter for sure. However, their amazing feats are not mine, so I do not deserve such distinguished words as of today.
I am aware of other brothers and sisters that have decided to cease and desist all fighting cuz they are just done. They chose to stop the fight, and live out their remaining days with as much dignity and respect as cancer will allow. These people equally have my undying respect. There is a third group that I do not respect that much, and do not want to be associated with.
The people who ride the “warrior and fighter” coattails, and do not share the truth… that their cancer and treatment was not that tough when compared to those who have been to the brink and back, or chose to exit the fight on their terms. It is the equivalent of me saying my years of Air Force service deserve the same level of recognition as those who lost their lives to keep their country free and their brothers and sisters in arms alive. There is no comparison!!! I added value to the nation’s defense throughout my years of service… just not as much value as others have, so I do not deserve the same high level of respect and appreciation as those who have seen war and death up close.
As of today, I am nothing more than a Reluctant Participant in the cancer space who is asking people not to wrongly apply words and ideas like “warrior” and “fighter” to me. I take it as an insult towards the true warriors and fighters: the Lab Coats, oncologists, nurses & staff members, and my brothers and sister in cancer that have been to the brink or decided to live with dignity since they withdrew from the fight. These are true warriors and fighters that have my undying respect and admiration.
Let us not insult them by applying such words and ideas to me, A Reluctant Participant, please.