Then Prostate Cancer is the kind you want to get.
She’s an acquaintance, and I suppose she is saying this to comfort me, to make me feel better. But it doesn’t make me feel better. I’m not the get angry right away type, and we barely know one another, so I finish the conversation with some mild defense of Prostate Cancer as an actual disease. On the way home, the feeling bubbles up, and I’m driving down the highway ranting to my imaginary road buddy, Mz. Itchy.
So, if Prostate Cancer was a planet, it would be Pluto? It’s on the edge of Cancer? It barely even rates as real Cancer? Any day now, the CDC or whoever decides what is and isn’t Cancer will downgrade it to one of the sub-Cancers? It’s the sub-tropic of Cancer? It’s so easy to cure and common that any day now people will be able to buy their Prostate Cancer surgery and radiation kits over the counter, like Nasacort and Zyrtec? In that case, why did we spend all of that money to have a surgeon take care of this? I should have just given SH a big dose of Jim Beam and attacked the area with a butter knife. Maybe we can perform the radiation treatments on the back porch with a really strong varmint spotlight. Is that what you mean? Do you really mean to say that someone should want to get this Cancer?
Because I can tell you right now, Prostate Cancer is not the type of Cancer that my husband wanted to get. He wanted to get a case of NO Cancer! In fact, I think he would pretty much take cancer-less over cancer-full 100% of the time.
Mz. Itchy did her job, kept her big mouth shut, and listened without comment. After I wound down, I reminded myself that everyone is fighting some kind of battle. Maybe the people who say stuff like this are trying to reconcile themselves to their own fears. Maybe categorizing some things as better and some things as worse gives them a framework for understanding the world, or mitigating the more common obstacles as being easier than those that are more rare.
There may even be some truth to the idea that Prostate Cancer is not as life-threatening as other types of Cancer. I don’t know about that. Someone I love is living with this disease and all of its consequences. That’s all I know. I’ll let the experts wrangle over semantics. http://www.pcf.org/site/c.leJRIROrEpH/b.7425707/k.7A02/10_Myths_and_Misconceptions_About_Prostate_Cancer.htm
Maybe my reaction is all about me. I have probably spouted some platitude that was equally upsetting to someone in my day. Mz. Itchy thought the solution was a girl fight on the playground. But hey, I’ve done the same thing, so I just have to let it go and move on. This experience is my opportunity to learn that when people are hurting, they don’t want to brush up against a cliché. “I’m sorry you are going through this,” is all I’ll say in the future. And if I ever use the phrase, If you’re going to get________, then this is the kind of ________ you want to get, I’ll fill in the blanks with something good, like chocolate, or a puppy, or strong, or news, or love.