A Brighter Shade of Pink

That's the title of a general Yahoo site on breast cancer awareness. Elizabeth Edwards wrote a column under this rubric, posted in October. She talks about telling her kids she had cancer and that her hair would fall out. I just read that her cancer has come back, and is in her ribs. Her husband claims he will continue campaigning for president, which means that he will drop out within the week. As Brecht has written, When the Leaders Speak of Peace/
The common folk know/ That war is coming. Her husband says it's not curable but treatable. Like diabetes, he says. Maybe. I've read that her chances of five-year survival are one in five. My chances of recurrence without chemo are 30 percent. With chemo, about half that. I have/had stage 2a. Edwards had stage 3. She had chemo (first), and a lumpectomy, then radiation and more chemo. Her breast cancer was in her lymph nodes. Oddly, when looking up stories about her cancer, I found one from 2004 written by my former college best friend (see two posts ago). We are all connected. Edwards has stage 4 (the last stage) now.

What shade of pink are Elizabeth Edwards' glasses now? That sounds cruel. I'm just tired of the pink pink pink optimism. I started reading a book called Pink Ribbons, Inc., which is critical of the big-business breast cancer complex. I will be quoting from it later.

Even I am tending to blame the victim: she hadn't had a mammogram in four years. Well, I was a few months late with my mammogram and I am a failure at breast self-exams because I can't figure out what's what. Everything is so lumpy and indistinct at the same time. Like trying to map a territory without looking. Still I resolve to do better by my surviving breast.

I turn to Brecht again. From The Shoe of Empedocles: For the mountain believes nothing and is not concerned with us.

That's how I see the universe. I guess that's how I see cancer, except cancer is within. And it responds: to chemo, radiation, food, hormones, exercise. We are the mountain.

And in a fundamental way, Empedocles, who killed himself in old age by jumping into Mount Aetna, became Aetna. His bones and blood turned to lava and dust then rain then drinking water and plants and then the bones and blood of his followers' followers.