Tuesday, October 12, 2010

It's a Dirty Job

Head over The Wife's blog and check out her entry from last night. It's very thought-provoking and, I think, one of the best things she's ever written.

As Americans, we live our lives trying to avoid conflict. We go far out of our way so that people of different feelings aren't offended or made to feel uncomfortable. We take great pride in our "awareness" of things: gay pride awareness, animal rights awareness, ethnic awareness, breast cancer awareness. I guess this is a step forward from a hundred years ago, as most people were not aware of the struggles of sub-groups of people (either ethnicities, orientations, or victims of disease or hunger). The trap in all of this "awareness" is that simple awareness isn't enough.

It's not enough that we're aware of breast cancer or prostate cancer. Many of us have a relative, friend, or friend's relative that has been affected by those diseases. Most of us are "aware" of them. So, what? What does "awareness" bring to us? I'm also "aware" of genocide in Darfour, global warming, global cooling, and the rampant spread of Red Sox fandom despite condom distribution programs worldwide. The "awareness" isn't seeming to fix many things. As Americans, however, we are quite proud of our awareness and, in general, do nothing more than revel in our pride.

My wife did a great job in her post, outlining several things that people can do to move beyond the "awareness" and into the "get off your rear end and DO something" column of things. Even if it's writing a check to CureSearch or one of the other charities that actually fund research instead of itself.

Cancer is an uncomfortable disease. It causes conflict and dismay and despair and depression. It ruins lives; it ruins lives of family members; it ruins jobs, careers, and good moods. It's not as cute as "I like it on the table," or pink ribbons on a car, or pink cleats on a baseball field. It's not as fun as a 5K run, or a walk and a picnic, or a golf outing, or a car wash. It's surgeries, radiation, toxic chemicals, hours of nausea, rapid weight loss, gaunt faces and skinny bodies, drug cocktails, hospital bills, doctor visits, specialist visits, hours of arguments with health insurance providers, hours of arguments and dozens of letters from collections agencies, missed days of work, missed housework, weeks of your life spent in small hospital rooms, loss of sleep, and constant fear and terror.

And, we seem to have fought cancer off... at least, for now, because cancer never really is beaten. It just disappears for a while.

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