Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Note: As background, this piece was written in response to directly observing an introductory "chemo class" for patients at a major cancer clinic.

I was in a room today with people whose nightmares had all come true. The haunted looks on their faces reminded me of the faces of the prisoners in photographs of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. The faces in the room were colorless, grainy, still and timeless--the faces of humans slouching to their bitter ends. Faces as passive as the wildebeest brought down by the cheetah--all struggle gone and resigned to being dinner...

These people were haunted by the ghosts of their former selves--ghosts that once had dreams, but the dreaming ghosts were now hidden behind dead eyes and bottled up behind lips that dared not speak in bodies tense with future pain.

All the family and friends in the world and all the material goodies on earth were beyond them now as they no longer lived in the land of those careless "immortals" who live their lives as if there would be no end. The people in the room had suddenly become mortal and could not go back to their fantasy lives of vanity, status and careless fun. The people in the room had no idea how to live life as mortal beings. It was all too new. Mortality had been roughly shoved in their gray faces by the uncaring clown of the universe--and painfully ground in like a cream pie full of broken glass and hot coals.

They had not yet realized that this--this--is what it is like to grow up. Bloodied and battered--pushed to the limit-- these poor faces did not imagine that they were being given the opportunity to finally be human--to not be judged or to judge themselves by their accomplishments or material wealth by arriving at a place beyond judgement where the core of their humanity resides.  They were being given the opportunity to teach the "immortals" still living in the fantasy world what it really means to be a man or a woman. Not by becoming some vision of perfection or bravery--not in the guise of a noble suffering saint, but by becoming a mortal human, stripped of all the trappings and vanities--naked in an uncaring universe and still able to create meaning, still able to give and still able to love... 


  1. Thanks Jim. You are an awesome writer. I may share this with the church I pastor.
    You really hit the nail on the head on how the initial news of cancer and/or chemo training affects our humanness. It has a remarkable way of bringing all things into perspective. My wife responded to your post on BCAN and said that there were many negative remarks. Sorry. People respond differently, as you well know, or know NOW if you didn't already. I think we need to face our issues head on then grab onto hope. I personally find hope and peace in God. I have hills and valleys as things change but I process it and move on giving and loving as you so eloquently wrote. I am still in a 2 yr. battle with stage 4 bladder cancer. It was removed in April along with cancerous lymph nodes. Doc says 100% chance of cancer returning. Keep fighting and living Jim. BCAN name is danger247.

  2. Paul, Thank you for reading this in the way Iinteded it--as an inspiring piece. Friends, clients, relatives, aquantaences and strangers have come out of the woodwork since I was diagnosed. I am amazed and humbled by their caring.

    I know there is a 100% chance of return, so the only option I wish to explore at the end of the chemo and surgery and more chemo road is an anti-angiogenises protocol the minute I end up NED at some point. I will always have cancer, but not disease becasue anti-angiognisis that works does not allow a tumor to build a blood supply. The protocols are used with mixed sucess with dogs and zoo animals and are not proven sceintificaly, but they do work sometimes, which is better that going to second and third line chemo and salvage readiation and salvage surgery. Those last few years will be hell. I would rather gamble on an unproven protocol that will preserve quality of life until it fails and I die or preserves it until I have long term control over tumor formation and live.

    Yikes, which one of the women on BCAN was she. She really tore a strip off me. No, I don't really wnat to know. I iwish her the best and she probably already has the best ---in YOU! I was never angry with any of my detractores. I understood thier point of view and only pleaded that they understand mine.

    I will freind you on BCAN so we can talk sometime.