1 day ago
She didn't lose, it was death. She wasn't a warrior. She was a mother under the care of medical professionals hoping to spend a few more days with her . She didn't die because she was weak. She died because of the rapid growth of abnormal white blood cells that sabotaged her body's immune system.
When people are diagnosed with a disease, we have a bad habit of throwing around terms of military valor, as if your cancer, for example, cares how “courageous” you are. In reality, your gallantry will have little to do with your ability to be killed or not be killed by your condition. If you do manage to reach remission, it's not because something was conquered in the way soldiers overtake enemy land. It's because you no longer have leukemia cells. You didn't win a war, there was no such act in the first place. It was a disease. Your body reacted to it. Medical research intervened. What happened next, just happened.
Our need to frame everything as a story, where action rises and falls in a logical fashion, speaks more to our insistence on attaching meaning to the events of our lives than it does indicate an understanding of medical science. The theory goes that if you are diagnosed with a disease and fight hard enough, you can overcome it. We’ve been taught similarly through countless myths since youth. It makes us feel in control, instilled with a purpose, as if life is still unfolding in a reasonable fashion. The converse of this is startling however: the mother of two who died at 43 must not have battled sufficiently, so it was a personal failing that ultimately led to her demise.
If cancer is random DNA mishaps, like recent studies suggest 2/3 of cases are, if death occurs despite our best efforts, if bad things happen to good people, then what? Then our attempts to order life, to derive meaning from happenstance, must be a kind of bargaining, a distraction from our own mortality. At least, you can rest easy knowing that one day your atoms and molecules will re-enter the ecosystem and then eventually the cosmos. Take solace in that. That's science. Not a metaphor.