Wednesday, March 09, 2005


I've made some comments pro and con on the whole issue of bravery and cancer. I don't think bravery is surviving cancer, because there is only so much anyone can do about that. And I made some comments about not wanting to work until I died. Although my kneejerk reaction is that that is bravery because it is inherently stoic. (And my reaction to the piece by The Cheerful Oncologist was further colored by the fact that I never had a job that involved a parking lot that I felt was anything other than wage slavery. If I were, say, a doctor, I might want to keep driving to work, sitting the parking lot to gather my strength, going into work because what work I did would be meaningful to myself and others. But most of my jobs involved banks and factories and writing procedures that were meant to prevent companies from being shut down by the FDA. It was, as a lot of work is, mildly soul destroying. Even teaching often feels like making sausage.)

So what do I think is brave?

In China, historically, when young women have killed themselves, because they were pregnant, or chattel of their husbands and mothers-in-law or all the historic reasons why Chinese women chose to kill themselves (including having their feet bound into four inch golden lillies) they drowned themselves in the well.

I always assumed that was because there weren't many options for killing oneself besides knives, hanging and the well, and once you threw yourself in, the well was pretty irrevocable. But I read once that one of the results of someone drowning themselves in a well was that the body in the well, unless it could be quickly retreived, contaminated the well for some time. So the suicide became an act of revenge as well as escape.

There are lots of ways to poison the well when you have cancer. My idea of bravery is, as much as possible, not to poison the well.


Blogger Motherhood for the Weak said...

Your post really resonates with me. In struggling with infertility and the ancillary health issues surrounding it, I have fought not to become the woman who resents mothers and people who get pregnant at the drop of the hat. It is so easy to poison the well with negative energy and you're right, bravery is fighting it especially on the days when it would be so much easier to sink until the water is over your head.

Thanks for the post.


March 09, 2005 1:00 PM  
Blogger Gregory Feeley said...

And today Maureen has chemo again, poor gal.

It's like the sheriff and his deputies kicking their way into Maureen's Last Chance Saloon to roust the bad guys holed up there -- they get all the bad guys, but they do shoot the place up pretty bad.

I hope you're feeling okay afterward, kid.

March 10, 2005 9:19 AM  
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I was looking at your posts about cancer dana lung reeve and found a good article about the same cancer dana lung reeve info too...

God luck with it : )

October 02, 2005 10:38 AM  
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October 05, 2005 11:07 AM  
Anonymous CT said...

Maureen, I don't know if you ever still read responses to this blog, but I wanted to tell you this was a remarkable post. Content and structure -- I read it aloud to my husband, and it is like one really long haiku. Not the syllables, but the important part. The ending moment of clarity. Thanks.

November 02, 2010 12:14 PM  

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