Getting Angry With Cancer

I’ve written articles for this website for several years and every now and then an old piece is pushed out on social media for another day in the sun. I’m always slightly nervous about reading the old stuff, particularly when the writing is not quite as good as it should be.

The last piece that popped up on my social media feeds was one published in January 2020 just before the pandemic upended our lives. It has a snappy title: Four Rules for a Happy Life. Cancer and a happy life, really, how does that work?

My tone when talking about cancer

At the risk of sounding overly pleased with myself, I thought it read quite well. I reposted the link to my social media sites, and it got some traction. One writer even shared a poem, though the majority of people who interacted posted pictures of their dogs, which is something I am by no means against. This flurry of pooches was triggered by me posting a photo of my mutt Rusty, my excellent cancer companion.

All of which spurred me to read a few more of my pieces. The one thing that really struck me is how the tone of my articles is pretty constant, even if the content is quite different. I always strive to be humorous and upbeat and attempt to accentuate the positive wherever I can.

Different tones

I used to follow a prostate cancer writer who called his blog "Rant from the suburbs." He was not always so mellow in his opinions. Sadly, he has now passed on. I also see many justifiably furious remarks posted on social media from those who have contracted this dreaded disease. All of which got me thinking about whether I should be adopting a more belligerent manner.

The problem is I’m always a bit wary of earnest messages and articles. Grand angry messages are often the cause of the world’s problems, particularly grand angry political messages. Earnestness is often just stupidity with a college education. Plus, I’ve never been convinced that po-faced seriousness makes anyone feel better. Flippancy is to be avoided just as much as pretentious doom-laden messages from a writer with an over-inflated opinion of himself.

Rueful reflection

All I can say without reservation is that not contracting cancer is an enormous improvement on receiving that deadly diagnosis. No one who has had the unfortunate experience of visiting a cancer hospital, whether as a visitor or patient, can fail to get some idea of the brutalities on offer. Perhaps every man should be forced to go to such a place to look at the white ghosts undergoing chemotherapy. Perhaps this will persuade him to undergo the (albeit mild) indignity of a rectal exam.

Rueful reflection seems to be my go-to tone of voice when writing about cancer and its associated indignities. As of my writing this, I’m no longer on any treatment and my cancer appears to be in remission. Having said that, my PSA score is starting to creep up, though it is still only at 0.23.

It may continue to rise, but it’s impossible to say how far and how fast. If my condition really starts to go south then perhaps a very different, more severe, style of writing will be called upon.

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