04 March 2008



Many months ago I said, about my cancer treatment, that I'm not brave, even though people say it. Bravery is facing danger head-on when you have other choices. Here have been my choices over the past year and a bit:

  1. Potentially life-saving small surgery? Yes or no?
  2. Potentially life-saving two-month radiation treatment? Yes or no?
  3. Potentially life-saving early two-month chemotherapy? Yes or no?
  4. Potentially life-saving large surgery? Yes or no?
  5. Potentially life-saving late six-month chemotherapy? Yes or no?

The basic choice has been: Treatment or death? Yes or no?

That's a pretty easy decision.

My real choices have been pretty small, and the choice to blog (and appear on the radio) about all this stuff was also an easy one, because this was the question: Write about my cancer like I write about everything else, and keep the information flowing? Or live two lives, and try to remember whom I've told and whom I should be hiding stuff from every single damn day?

Why would I choose to keep it private? Given who I am, how could I possibly do that and stay focused?

I said in that radio interview and elsewhere that, as far as relating to other people goes, cancer is an easy disease. People don't judge me for it. (Perhaps if it wasn't colorectal cancer, but lung cancer from smoking or liver cancer from drinking, some people might judge me. But even so, cancer is no longer "the C word.") They're sympathetic, and cut me a lot of slack.

What takes some bravery is what fellow Vancouver blogger Corinna is doing at her site Gus Greeper: writing in painful, wrenching detail about her depression, anxiety, and therapy. And her trip to the hospital yesterday after she downed a handful of pills and some wine.

Depression and other mental illnesses still have a big stigma. They shouldn't. For someone who has never experienced them, like me, they are tremendously difficult to understand, but that doesn't make them less real. And let me tell you, until you've been close to or had cancer yourself, you don't understand it either.

Stay brave, Corinna. It's worth the fight.

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I saw you briefly at the Vancouver Bloggers Meetup but didn't get a chance to talk to you. I've read your blog before, and I think you've done a wonderful job of sharing your experience.

I lost my grandmother and my aunt to cancer (liver and lung, respectively), and I know that the C word still carries some stigma, but as you mention, thankfully it doesn't carry as much as it used to.

And I agree, Corinna is being very courageous and brave in sharing with the world what she is going through. You are very brave too, and I admire you and Corinna (and the loving partners who accompany you in your journeys) for educating us in how you are dealing with the challenges you face on a daily basis. Thank you.
What you say, about depression, is so true. I admire her openness and honesty. It's only through that type of expression that people learn about the disease.

But your openness and honesty is not without bravery and importance, either. I'm sure people gather strength from your story as well
I appreciate you posting Corinna's experiences, and yours of course!