Friday, 8 January 2016

Hope is for Dopes....

Found this insightful and somewhat sad essay yonks ago it seems (2009?) written by a guy who has since passed away from stupid cancer...

Seems more apt than ever really....

Not long ago I attended a Cancer Relay. I was told that the event was a fund raiser/celebration. Speakers talked a lot about hope. “Never give up hope,” they chanted. The audience cheered. I began to wonder about the entire premise of this event.

Fund raiser/celebration? I got the fund raiser part. That is what the American Cancer Society seems to do – raise funds. Many people work for the ACS and many more volunteer. They raise a lot of money. I think that most of it goes to pay for large buildings that house lots of employees who work with lots of volunteers who raise lots of money. They produce lots of T- shirts with cancer relay emblems printed on them. I think they also put out wrist bands and trinkets that say things like, “Don’t give up hope,” and stuff like that. They operate a website that serves as a search engine for a lot of information about cancer. ACS volunteers do things like drive patients to their chemo sessions. I think that mostly what they do though is raise money.

The celebration part of this fund raiser celebration was a bit more puzzling. We’ve been fighting the war against cancer for forty years now and basically we’re getting the shit kicked out of us. We have no cure for cancer. People die from cancer every day. I have cancer and based on the statistics I have less than a five percent chance of being cured. Sorry but I don’t feel like celebrating.

Some came to the fund raiser/celebration to celebrate people who have died. I hope no one does that for me if and when I die from this disease. Let me make my request now: please do not buy a candle and walk around a track in remembrance of poor me. As one whose days are most likely numbered, I can think of thousands of things to do that would be more productive than lighting candles and walking around in circles.

You see, that’s the problem with this war on cancer. We’re walking around in circles way too much. Rather than search for a cure for cancer – some way to stop the proliferation of cancer cells in bodies with immune systems that fail to get the job done, researchers are looking for chemo agents that are merely less toxic than those on the market today. It is the market that determines what researchers work on. Finding a cure for the disease of cancer is not an endeavor that can promise a quick and sizeable return on a cash investment. We’ve not taken the first steps in understanding how to stop cancer from metastasizing. Cancer cells that are killed or removed before they grow into the lymphatic system or have a chance to metastasize may be permanently eliminated. Unfortunately, most cancer is not detected and treated that early. So the rest of us, with cancers that have penetrated the lymphatic system, spread to distant organs, or recurred, are shit out of luck.

Which brings me back to the problem I have with hope. If someone is beating you on the head with a baseball bat, will you hope that they stop? If your house is on fire, will you hope that the fire goes out and that you will be saved? If your child is hungry, will you hope that he doesn’t starve? Come on America, think. Don’t just follow the pack and donate a couple of bucks for a T shirt that advertises hope. Hope is for people who have run out of resources. Hope won’t cure you. Hope won’t make you well.

I’m reminded of an interview in which Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones was asked if he believed in what the Beatles were preaching through their song, “All you need is love.” “Try eatin’ that,” said Richards. I don’t believe that is so cynical. We have a few basic needs which, if they are unmet, will lead us to disaster. Air, food, water and shelter reign among those.

We need to stop cancer from taking over our bodies. Once cancer starts the process of taking charge, we have precious little time to turn things around. It is as if we are under water. There are ways to breathe down there but eventually we must come to the surface and breathe the air. Health care professionals can kill a few cancer cells, but cancer patients desperately need to stop the process of cancer growth inside their bodies. That is the cure we need, but unfortunately there is nothing being developed today that is any more promising than what was available forty years ago.

Try putting some of that hope into an IV bag and let it drip into your veins. I don’t think it will take you far. Science has found, so far, that hope has nothing to do with decreasing cancer mortality. Attitude, age, diet, chemo and procedures don’t even put a dent in mortality rates. The stage of one at diagnosis is what determines who lives and who dies.

Instead of hoping, why not take all of those purple cancer T-shirts and make them into blankets. Put those blankets on patients who sit freezing on vinyl recliners with icy cold chemo dripping into their veins. Instead of mindlessly forking over a couple of bucks to the ACS let’s find a way to fund a real cure. This would mean bypassing the fund raisers that spend money on T-shirts and trinkets; bypassing the pharmaceutical companies that are trying to make a quick return on their investment by chasing cancer cells; bypassing the fund raisers that seek donations for hospitals and cancer centers that promise to make a profit by delivering the same treatments that haven’t worked for forty years. Instead of hoping, let’s fund a real cure.

I don’t wish to quell anyone’s enthusiasm. I’m not against anyone who is compassionate enough to dig into their pockets and contribute to what they think is a solution. I see no wrong in celebrating the lives of those who have passed before us. I want to rethink the way we are approaching the disease of cancer. I want to get money into the hands of people who can actually find a cure rather than a treatment. Enough with the T-shirts and fund raising/celebrations. I want to see hope transformed into action. I’m kind of in a hurry too.


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