Thursday, April 14, 2016

April is Poetry Month, and so...

“Let us remember…that in the end we go to poetry for one reason, so that we might more fully inhabit our lives and the world in which we live them, and that if we more fully inhabit these things, we might be less apt to destroy both.”

             --Christian Wiman

For this April Poetry Month I’m sharing one of my favorite poems for the Love in the Time of Cancer community:

 “What the Living Do” by Marie Howe:

Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.
And the Drano won't work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up

waiting for the plumber I still haven't called. This is the everyday we spoke of.
It's winter again: the sky's a deep, headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through

the open living-room windows because the heat's on too high in here and I can't turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street, the bag breaking,

I've been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,

I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.

What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss--we want more and more and then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I'm gripped by a cherishing so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I'm speechless:
I am living. I remember you. 

                                                     --Marie Howe
This week I am heading to Massachusetts for Yoga Teacher Training. I'll be back home, and back here at LITTOC,  on May 1st.  Thank you always for reading this blog and inspiring me with your stories. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

When We are Well Enough to Get Cancer

"In the United States the median age at which colon cancer strikes is 69 for men and 73 for women. In Chad the average life expectancy at birthis about 50. Children who survive childbirth — and then malnutritionand diarrhea — are likely to die of pneumonia, tuberculosis, influenza,malariaAIDS or even traffic accidents long before their cells accumulate the mutations that cause colon cancer.
In fact, cancers of any kind don’t make the top 15 causes of death in Chad — or in Somalia, the Central African Republic and other places where the average life span peaks in the low to mid-50s. Many people do die from cancer, and their numbers are multiplied by rapidly growing populations and a lack of medical care. But first come all those other threats."
Those two paragraphs are from a December article in the New York Times outlining the incidence of cancer in the developing world (deeper poverty) versus our Western communities. It suggests a mixed blazing for sure and an intriguing paradox for people with cancer:
 We lived long enough-- and well enough-- to get cancer. 
Reading the entire article is worth your time because in addition to showing what the greater health concerns are "there" versus "here" it also shows the terrible dilemma of what happens to cancer as countries are lifted out of deep poverty. As cancer arrives as the incidence of deadly infectious diseases recedes. 
The article is sobering and surprising--and a challenge to people with cancer and to those in philanthropy and international healthcare.
Here's a link to the whole article. Do take a look:
Here is the link to the New York times article by George Johnson