If you’ve ever googled cancer poems, you’ve come across this:
What Cancer Can Not Do
Cancer is so limited…
It cannot cripple love
It cannot shatter hope
It cannot corrode faith
It cannot destroy peace
It cannot kill friendship(s)
It cannot suppress memories
It cannot silence courage
It cannot invade the soul
It cannot steal eternal life
It cannot conquer the spirit.
Ya gotta love the attention to detail on “friendship(s).” A copyeditor must have shown up somewhere on the Internet daisy-chain.
Cancer is so limited? What bullshit! Miss Anonymous, I want to have cancer on your planet. On my planet, cancer acts like a serial killer who’s got plenty of ammo and is just getting started.
It cannot cripple love. Tell that to the woman whose boyfriend dumped her after she got sick. (RIP beautiful Marnie Rose.)
It cannot shatter hope. Cancer doesn’t kill people. Cancer cells kill people. Cancer doesn’t cause despair. Cancer prognosis causes despair. I’m glad that’s cleared up.
It cannot corrode faith. Faith in what? Faith that I wouldn’t get cancer if I exercised and ate right?
It cannot destroy peace. World War I, World War II, holocaust, segregation, Vietnam, Middle East, et al. And that’s just the 20th century. Or is the poem referring to peace of mind? I assure you cancer did me no favors in that department.
It cannot kill friendships. People who are scared of “catching” cancer will drop you. People who figure you’ll soon be dead and/or useless to them will drop you. People who haven’t faced their own mortality will drop you.
It cannot suppress memories. I remember…uh…I think I remember reading that the effects of chemotherapy on cognitive abilities might be permanent, not temporary, as once believed.
It cannot silence courage. I wasn’t aware that courage made any sound. Sorrow, fear and anger, on the other hand, can make quite a racket.
It cannot invade the soul. How can anyone prove or disprove that?
It cannot steal eternal life. Again, how do we know? No one has called me up from the other side to say, “Yep, I arrived safe and sound, eternal life intact, despite the cancer.”
It cannot conquer the spirit. Then why do cancer patients have twice the suicide rate of the general population?
Here’s my version of the poem:
What Cancer Can Not Do 2.0
It cannot accumulate calcium deposits. Or resentments. Or negative home equity.
It cannot be John Edwards.
It cannot send you threatening letters if you fail to grasp Chicago’s wacky toll exits during heavy Friday afternoon traffic.
It cannot run skimming operations while broadcasting commercials of extravagant weddings, joyous graduations and private meetings with architects in Aspen while the best-friends-forever financial advisors smile approvingly.
It cannot go away. Not really.
But if you’re lucky, it might settle down for a long, long time.
[ed. note to readers: If you disagree with this post and explain your point of view with civility, I will welcome your comment. As for the haters: Feel free to move along to the next blog. If you choose to leave a harsh comment, I will publish it, and return your vitriol with interest.]