Dec 31, 2012 - 1:05 pm
In the midst of a hectic schedule and all of the associated mayhem I’ve found myself dealing with, I paused for just a few minutes to check out one of the football game that was playing yesterday – Indianapolis vs Houston
The head coach of Indianapolis has had leukemia and for the past three-months had been under going chemo treatments and he triumphantly returned to the sidelines yesterday to coach the team once again.
Great story, right?
Person gets cancer…person fights cancer for a few months…goes into remission…returns to work….does the happy dance in the locker room and all of that….to a nationally televised audience…
Made for TV? A Hallmark moment? Too good to be true?
D…all the above?
But, what’s really the message being sent here? What glossed over images are we portraying to the people? What’s the hidden message that is being withheld from society at large through this illusion we’re being shown through this chapter of a cancer story?
Is the glorification of this ‘victory’ in this story, doing more of a disservice to cancer – or more importantly, to the participants on hand by showing us a sanitized, neat and clean story about cancer and how it was beaten?
Are they making it look too easy?
Over time, do we now begin to not think of it in more trivial terms from seeing that we get it…and then get over it quickly?
Is this news story relevant? Or is it even newsworthy?
And what makes it any more newsworthy than any of OUR stories?
Celebrity status vs The Common Man is what…
Of course, this is a good story. We all like to see victories over cancer in any form. To say anything at all that is not 100% positive for such a story would be sheer blasphemy, right?
But, let’s don’t lose sight of the point that I’m leading up to….which is…
This guy got cancer…took 3-months of chemo treatments…and went into a remissive state. The articles that I read were obviously written by folks who had no inkling or even the vaguest comprehension of what cancer is and how hard and prolonged the treatments can be….nor the devastating toll it takes on the patient and their loved ones, who fight on for years and not merely months.
To read the article, you’d think this guy went to hell and back again the way they worded it…if you didn’t know any better, that’s what you would believe too…in between the lines, you read he did treatment…he was sick from it…we know that sucks…but 3 months, you’re just really getting started.
Some of you and I know of a much different kind of reality…and the fact of the matter is that three-months is just like cutting your baby teeth in a cancer fight.
Most standard chemo is six-months, not three. Often times, coupled with debilitating radiation treatments and a big, major surgery to get the ball rolling.
Some of us get cancer multiple times…and do multiple surgeries…and multiple chemo/rad treatments…over and over again….for years on end….not for just a few months.
We often return to our jobs and try and pick up the pieces of a long, hard fought campaign…with much less physical function and some mental decline to boot…we often return to our place of employment with no war-whooping or folks getting nekkid and dancing around happy.
So, there’s a part of this story that just doesn’t sit right with me. I’m happy for the guy and everything, but the problem I have with this was how it was presented by the network….and how they manufactured the story to gloss over the realities of what a real cancer fight should represent.
It was about how they glorified, packaged and homogenized the topic of cancer in some simple looking solution and sold it to a delusional audience from the angle of human conquers sickness and prevails against its attacker.
It pandered to the level of emotion that would touch the ordinary guy, because they don’t understand the enormous obstacles, pain and sorrow that most cancer patients deal with over many more months than three.
So, everybody tears up doing the happy dance…and damn you to hell if you don’t go along with it, because you know…it’s cancer…and all of that.
Of course, I'm not afraid to speak up and out about what I saw...
TV wants it to play out like that…everything has to be neat and tidy…and then play itself out like so many of the reality shows that are being peddled or should I say perpetrated upon us today.
Get sick…fight hard…and win the fight…hurry, we’re back from commercial in…5-4-3-2-1…..”Action.”
It’s not like that though…most of our fights on a good day, are at least one year off the top….many do chemo for life. There are multiple stents with multiple hits…it’s never about the first fight for so very many of us.
Where are the balloons and confetti for my folks? Where are the accolades? What about their stories as an inspiration to America or the world?
If the Indianapolis coach had fought as hard as so many of us have, for so many years…they would be erecting statues and monuments for him….probably getting a federal holiday for him…and having streets named in his honor?
A 3-month fight…and he’s a hero…he's an inspiration...he ”overcame” the odds…now he's the “wow factor.”
Or is he?
That probably sounds bitter…but, it’s not…it’s real…and I’ll tell you why.
Because, I think that a story like this sends the wrong message to the public and what a cancer fight really is all about and entails…and the real toll that it takes on the patient and the caregiver during many years of a long fight….not just a few months.
You know that I stand up for the long-term fighter…my respect is high there, because I know how hard it was to achieve those years and make it that far. And it’s the hardest thing there is…real-life statistics have told me that most of my friends have fought between 1-4 years here…and then we memorialize them.
So, you can’t just bring me a 3-month “fight” and say hero or inspiration to me…not after what I’ve seen in my friends characters and their individual fights…and their spouses...over these long, hard years…and still finding it within themselves to share and give selflessly to others.
Those are the real heroes…and those are the people that should be counted amongst the victory trophies being passed around on the tele, masquerading themselves as big victories against cancer....when we've all seen some of the biggest victories and biggest tragedies happen up here in front of our very eyes.
I'm a hard guy, I know...but this place has set the bar pretty high, I'm proud to say...
One only has to look through the battlefield of our board to count the missing soldiers who gave all…and more to our cause. Their memories are our inspirations…their stories go untold, except for those that remember them and what they achieved.
Many of those stories were so inspirational, I made sure I wrote those characters and their stories into my never to be published book…because, these were real stories of real courage and real longevity…and they fought valiantly and silently…except for the echoes of their voices that still roam these newly designed CSN hallways.
I just think that society gets the wrong message from this kind of story…it makes it look all too simple and neat….you get a little cancer….go away for a couple of months….and then come back all new…..yea!
And that’s dangerous thinking….
It desensitizes us to the real dangers of what cancer really is…it starts to get society to thinking that cancer is just another chronic disease…and thereby, we begin to strip away the underlying importance of what cancer is…and how hard it really is to fight it….and that it can take many years, not months to fight…and sometimes years…and sometimes somebody’s own lifetime…up to and including - their own life.
While they may feel like they are just doing a good human interest story…I can think of many more engaging, important human interest stories right here on this board…many of the folks still neatly tucked away in my mind…(they have to be there since CSN deleted all of those wonderful PMs in the upgrade).
People worship the NFL…almost above everything else it seems…so this guy’s name could have been interchanged with anybody else who was “the coach” of Indianapolis…it wouldn’t matter…because, it’s the fame, notoriety and stature that attract people’s attention...not everyday folks like us.
Sports, music, and movie celebrity are all that anyone is really interested in…that’s what makes up all of the headlines...
Not real stories of real people, like you and I…
And I think that’s where society is really missing out on what we have to offer as the real face of cancer….what we’ve gone through…and what we’ve overcome along the way in many years of the cancer walk…
My people stand for the Real Side of the Real Story of what cancer really is…what it really does to someone over time…how long the fight can wage on…what it can take from us…and what it can never take from us…
And we play it out here each and everyday for years on end now…and just because the world doesn’t recognize us, because we’re not sitting in the spotlight…I just wanted to say that “I See You!”
And I for one, recognize everything it took for you to get to wherever you find yourself in this fight. Your story plays live on The Sundance Channel everyday…they are all chronicled in the deep corners of my mind.
“Ju lookin’ good, baby!”
I like good stories, just like anyone else…in fact, you all know how important story is to me…”Story Matters Here” on The Sundance Channel.
I just think we need to keep the real nature of cancer at the forefront of everybody’s attention span…
As Merlin proclaimed in the movie Excalibur, circa 1981…
“For it is the nature of man – that he soon forgets…”
While we all want to make it look way easier than it is…it’s important not to have the story of cancer diluted to the point where people begin to look at it as less than what it really is.
People begin to care less as that story line infiltrates the original story and replaces it….much like St. Augustine grass using its runners to squeeze the life out of Bermuda grass and replace it with its own matrix.
By trivializing and downplaying cancer through the national medium, the head honchos at the network, lost a golden opportunity to broaden the horizon of cancer and show the other side of the spectrum that the disease affords.
It could have showed us that while we may be able to gain a couple of steps on cancer in some cases…that a case like this, while it is to be celebrated, should be with baded breath, because this story does not represent a complete portrayal on what every cancer case really is and how it is dealt with.
Instead, we see this picture of someone getting ‘cancer’ and then taking some ‘tough’ treatments…and then getting all better…and now it’s a nice story of hope and inspiration and we can rally around the flagpole and say “Yes We Can.”
But, they packaged it in such a neat and tidy timeframe – and I feel they missed the point there. It’s good for TV, rah-rah stuff…but they could have taken it a step farther.
People really don’t want to hear or see the truth anymore, do they?
And we just want people to “Conform to the Norm” and not speak out, don’t we?
That way, Perception becomes 9/10 of the law…left unabated, that perception then turns to reality…but not necessarily the reality that is really real.
Not when we can condense the whole story down to a segment that plays before the commercial prior to the game’s kickoff…the story all has to be told with a happy ending by then.
Well, you heard it here first – straight from the horse’s a$$.
You guys are the real heroes…just sayin’….
And BTW…still “Keepin’ It Real” here in Cancer Land… after all these years...
Your humble servant along the front lines – who’s never afraid to talk about the hard topics...