fuck you, cancer

I gave a speech for a public speaking class in undergrad about how it was cool to wear red ribbons and talk about supporting money for an incurable but preventable disease, while another disease killed more people and was much less preventable.  I spoke of a Homecoming Queen from my hometown and delivered an argument for funneling more resources toward a disease that takes people unpredictably and in numbers far greater than the other disease that was completely preventable but more hip to get behind.  I got an A- and was told I sounded a little “too much like Rush Limbaugh” and should consider lawschool.  Noted.  For the next two years as I’d run into classmates from that course in other classes or football games or out at bars, they’d ask about that “girl I gave the speech about who had cancer,” and I’d have to tell them she was gone.

My last year of lawschool, a friend named Karen graduated near the top of our class, got hired by the biggest firm in town, and then learned she had cancer while studying for the bar exam.  She passed the test, went through chemo, and invited me to several charitable events requiring black tie attire, because she knew I owned a tux and liked to throw back a few beers and dance for 3-4 hours straight, even if we were the only ones doing so in a room full of law partners and charitable people with grey hair and wrinkles and were unaccustomed to a white guy who liked to shag with a black girl.  But she died a few months after everything was supposed to be in remission.  Right before she was suddenly gone (after the illness had gone into remission), The Complete Lawyer interviewed her.  The last question and answer were:

q: What Do You Want To Make Sure You Accomplish Before You Die?
a:  I want to enjoy every day. Make the most of it. Whatever time I have.

At the beginning of 2009, another friend from lawschool named Celeste told several of us who’d gathered for a New Year’s happy hour that her chemo was going well and that her solo venture was succeeding.  I announced my own plans to go solo and looked forward to having her as a source of advice and encouragement as I pursued my own dreams of self-employment and advocacy for the un-advocated.  But she died 6 months later.  I sat by myself at the funeral and “kept it together” throughout, until we were supposed to walk down to the front and shake her husband’s hand and say something comforting,  but I couldn’t do it, because what does one say to the guy who’s just lost his wife?  Instead I stood in the back and cried a bunch while a few of my old classmates tried to tell me it’d be okay.  She was supposed to turn 40 the next day.

A month later, I was walking back from lunch provided by a woman trying to sell me on using her company for structured settlements when my cellphone rang, and I learned that the partner for whom I worked my first several years of practicing had just died–about 2 years after she’d walked into my office, closed the door, and told me, “I just thought you should know I have cancer.  But don’t worry, I’m not going to die on you or anything–I’ll just leave work early on Fridays for treatment, and when I come back, I might vomit some, but I’ll otherwise expect everything to run as it normally would.”  Her name was Leigh.  She was the second person I told after I eloped, and the person from whom I learned more about practicing law than anyone with a “professor” preceding his or her name.  She believed in me even before I did.  And I never told her how much that meant to me.

A few days ago, my father called to tell me he has cancer.  And like Leigh and Celeste and Karen and Anna, he’s upbeat about what’s sure to be a quick surgery and maybe some radiation, and all will be fine.  But what if it isn’t?

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86 responses to “fuck you, cancer”

  1. muskrat says:

    @Jules, Wow…glad to hear that. Hope it stays gone for good.

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  2. muskrat says:

    @elle, Thanks. Maybe the Wizard who gave me a heart can heal, too!

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  3. muskrat says:

    @Lisa, Thanks. I just got an iphone recently and was going through all the emails that appeared on it, and I was surprised to find some very old ones that automatically ended up in folders on my phone. One of those was from a classmate with the link to that interview with Karen, and my reading it was the impetus for writing this post.
    I’ll try, despite the 3 hour drive…at least with email and the phone.

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  4. muskrat says:

    @Nancy, Thanks for the advice, and I’ve been pulling for your dad the last several months as his health improves and worsens. I hope our experience is better, but one never knows. He’s insured with Tricare (retired Air Force officer)…I hope all goes well.

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  5. muskrat says:

    @Debbie, Thanks so much…who would’ve thought being able to say “fuck off” would be such a noble goal?

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  6. muskrat says:

    @Raven-smiles, Thanks…we had a great Christmas, at least. Sorry about your mom and friend.

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  7. muskrat says:

    @psychobabble, It is indeed…thanks.

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  8. muskrat says:

    @Debbie Downer, Yeah, that’s exactly what happened to Leigh. Diagnosed. Treated. Cured! And then, 2 years later, into a coma on a Friday and dead the following Monday. It blows.
    Thanks, though…no apologies necessary.

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  9. muskrat says:

    @avitable, That truly is the gift that keeps giving for 30 seconds or so.

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  10. muskrat says:

    @keyona, Thanks!

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  11. muskrat says:

    @always home, Thanks, Kevin!

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  12. muskrat says:

    @candice, That’s okay…I appreciate it and do hope for the best.

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  13. muskrat says:

    @zoeyjane, I don’t think I’ve ever said this before, but thanks for the expletives!

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  14. Cancer took my aunt, an attorney, then another aunt two weeks later, then my step father (3 days before my wedding no less.) Its fucking clown shoes. I wish I had something better to say. Of course a person’s attitude has something to do with survival and so does their health going into it and the type of cancer and their stress level throughout the process and so many other things. But you know all that. I think it best if I tell you my thoughts are with you and your family and otherwise shut up.
    .-= Swedish Skier´s last blog ..Friday Quotes! Best of 2009 Part I =-.

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    muskrat Reply:

    @swedish skier, Damnation. It’s hard to imagine a day when cancer is an exhibit at the Museum of American History like polio is, but maybe it’ll come. Hopefully, before I get it.

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  15. Califmom says:

    As I sit here alongside my husband’s chair in the chemo infusion center, wearing sunglasses under the guise of preventing a migraine when right now they’re hiding my tears, I can honestly say, I feel ya and it fucking sucks.

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    muskrat Reply:

    @califmom, I thought of you when I typed this, of course. I can’t imagine watching a spouse go through this, get better, and then have to do it again. I hope hope hope that he drives it off once again.

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  16. Faiqa says:

    Oh, man. I’m so sorry. A woman I knew from high school lost her 4 year old daughter to cancer yesterday. Four freaking years old. One month older than my daughter. I cried like a baby and let my daughter watch six hours of television, eat candy for breakfast, dinner and lunch, and let her go to bed at 11p.m. All I could think of, and I hope this doesn’t sound as shitty as it feels, was “There I go, but for the grace of God.” I hate cancer.

    I truly, truly hope that your father comes through this alright. I suppose in situations like this the best thing we can do is believe that the best is going to happen? If you like, I’ll believe it for you. And for me.

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    muskrat Reply:

    @faiqa, You’re right…a bunch of us who were in highschool with Anna and then saw her die certainly had what shaky we faith we had at that age further shaken. I do believe all will be well…I don’t really have a choice, do I?

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  17. I’m with Ann that this is a lovely post. Every once in a while, you do write one. 🙂

    On the serious side, though, Muskrat, I could tell you I’ve had x, y and z family members who have had cancer, but at a time like this, all I can say is my prayers and thoughts are with you and your family.
    .-= unfinishedrambler´s last blog ..Wherein I Tell You What’s In The Ultra-Scary Side Of The Basement At Your Local Library =-.

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    muskrat Reply:

    @unfinished rambler, “Lovely?” Ha! Thanks so much…I wish so many folks didn’t identify, but hey, that’s life in this day, right?

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  18. jenniferro10 says:

    Just found out my aunt, the woman who has stood in for my parents after they died, just found out she has cancer. This, after years of taking care of other people who were too jerky to take care of themselves- addicted family members, people who make crappy decisions over and over, etc. Like your dad and your friends, she’s all, “Yeah, who needs a uterus at my age, anyway. I’ll have the surgery and it will be a while before I can scrub the bathtub, so I’m going to do all that stuff the day before I go in.” What?!?
    I am pissed off!

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    muskrat Reply:

    @jenniferro10, I hope she only loses some time and some not-to-be-used-again tissue then! I feel you.

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  19. Maigh says:

    Do. Not. Like.

    Heart, prayers, happy thoughts with you and yours.

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    muskrat Reply:

    @maigh, Thanks…

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  20. Broderick says:

    So sorry to hear this. Sending positive vibes to you and the family. Sending a big F U to cancer on your behalf.
    .-= Broderick´s last blog ..In-N-Out Burger – California =-.

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    muskrat Reply:

    @broderick, Thanks…it needs multiple FU’s!

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  21. Shit. So sorry to hear that. And yes, fucking cancer.
    .-= Carolyn Online´s last blog ..An open letter to Sanjay Gupta. =-.

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    muskrat Reply:

    @carolyn online, I plan to be loud and distracting enough that it’ll lose its boner, so it can’t.

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  22. Goddammit, muskrat. I know you wrote this a while ago, but shit. What a great post about something horrible. Now I need to read every post from January until now to make sure your dad is ok.

    Then I have to go and call my own dad. Just ’cause.
    Didactic Pirate´s last blog post ..Movember- Grow a Stache to Kick Cancers Ass

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    muskrat Reply:

    @Didactic Pirate, No need to swear, buddy…all seems okay for now.

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  23. […] latter than the former) for eradication of cancers that primarily affect men.  You know, like the kind my dad got last […]

  24. Though I just discovered this post now, I couldn’t help but notice that you posted it exactly a year to the day before my mother’s funeral. Another victim of f’ing cancer who definitely didn’t deserve it.
    Eloquent post, Michael.
    Jay- The Dude of the House´s last blog post ..Two-Line Tuesday: Bigfoot

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    muskrat Reply:

    Sorry to hear about your mom…so far, my dad seems fine since it was caught early.

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  25. […] Michael Moebes, Dadcation: F**k You Cancer […]

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