Gimme That Ol' Gift O' Cancer

And Annie and I fell in love all over again. We refer to the gift of cancer, because despite the hell she went through, it delivered us heaven on earth. It gave us gratitude for every blessed second we have together
--Mark McKinnon, media strategist and name-dropper, on his wife's cancer in the Daily Beast

Ruth Pennebaker
alerted me to this saccharine-filled bromide-fest.

Mark McKinnon, who should be asking for public forgiveness for helping George W. Bush and John McCain meet strategic challenges, is instead lauding the wonderful attitude of his perfect wife. She was diagnosed with an unnamed cancer that kills 85 percent of those who get it. She decided she was going to be in the 15 percent. And she was. And despite radical radiation, aggressive chemo, and surgery to take out basically all non-essential organs, Annie beat the terrible odds. She turned out to be Lance Armstrong in a skirt.

Apparently there are some people out there who are unaware of mortality. They need a jolt of lightning, in the form of cancer or other life-threatening disease (any will do), to wake them up to the notion that Life is Limited. We will die. Carpe diem. Or as the liquor store down the street and around the corner puts it: Carpe noctem.

McKinnon writes about always having been lucky. Apparently that luck came without a drop of empathy. His brother is paralyzed from an accident, his sister has endured 30 operations for severe arthritis, and he calls himself lucky. Oh well, he can move without pain. A more aware person might write about the sadness of being the only well sibling (a term used recently and well by Jessica Handler) and having to watch the suffering of people he loves.

Hey Mark, please talk to my young friend Jesse. Ask him about cancer being a gift. He could drop names, too: he hangs out with famous people like Oscar Mayer and Jack Brickhouse and Frances Willard.

And you can guess the punchline: in the cemetery.

[photo: entrance to Rosehill Cemetery, Chicago]

Gimme that ol' gift o' cancer
Gimme that ol' gift o' cancer
Gimme that ol' gift o' cancer
It's good enough for me.
It was good for Gracie Paley
It was good for Molly Ivins
It was good for Mimi Engelberg
It's good enough for me.