November 05, 2008

Pragmatic Hope

Eight years ago I was diagnosed with cancer at age twenty-seven. Eight years ago George W. Bush also became President of the United States. I’m not delusional enough to believe there is a connection between these two events, however, in the history of my own personal life, they are deeply entwined.

November 4, 2000, I was lying in bed three days post-surgery. My thyroid and 30 tumors were removed from my neck. My mom was asleep on a dingy futon on the floor of my studio apartment. Exhausted from the chores of motherly caregiving, she slept soundly while I listened to the radio. The announcers were ticking off states as they rolled in. Florida went to Gore. But in a short while the announcer remarked that there maybe a problem and they began suggesting recounts.

I could not sleep. It was not the election, it was my nerves, my fear of impending radiation, and my realization that I had just been diagnosed with cancer. The rapidly unfolding election debacle was a nightmarish distraction from my own private hell. When my mom woke up in the morning, I had still not gone to sleep. Sitting in our beds, I told her the whole story that rest of America was just waking up to.

I’m not an optimist. I’m a pragmatist. For me, hope is not a solution for fighting cancer. For me, faith is not the key to survival. Vigilant watch over my doctors, continual education, and relentless research in an effort to find unopened doors – that is how I surmount my cancer. After multiple surgeries, many goes at treatment, my cancer persists. Eight years later, I am thirty-five years old and still not cancer free.

I am not insane enough to believe that my cancer is tied to the election. But tonight, in a crowded bar in Chicago, as I watched Obama’s victory speech, I secretly hoped to myself that this much needed change in our government would some how usher in a change in my health. Maybe the four letter word plastered on buttons, t-shirts, and bumper stickers around town has sunk into my subconscious; for the first time in eight years, tonight I dared to hope. The feeling didn’t last long. Just about the length of Obama’s speech. When it was over, I turned to my husband and said, “He better make good on his word to eliminate pre-existing condition exclusions.” Like I said, I’m a pragmatist.

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  1. sadunkal Says:
    November 7th, 2008 at 12:26 PM

    Hi. Interesting blog. I was just wondering, do you ever question what the mainstream medicine is telling you?

  2. Everything Changes Says:
    November 7th, 2008 at 3:31 PM

    Hi Sadunkal. That is a great question. I am a big advocate for scrutinizing all forms of medicine, both allopathic and “alternative,” so that I can get the best care possible and hopefully someday soon kick cancer’s ass. Your comment has spurred me to write more posts on the topic, starting with ‘Understanding Conflicts of Interest’. I’ll have it up soon. Thanks for your comment!

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