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Using the cancer card

Posted Sep 23 2010 10:25pm


I was riding my bike to the Belmont L and had stopped at the light at Belmont and Sheffield. I felt someone bump against my basket. Some guy who was maybe in his 40s with blondish hair and a t-shirt wearing a belligerent attitude. You're in the crosswalk, he said, rather heatedly. I was. I hadn't meant to be. And I hadn't expected people to walk across the street without looking. He was irate. I said, Peace on earth. He was already at the curb. What did you say? What did you say? Peace on earth, I said. Peace on earth? He walked back toward me. I've got plenty of peace. You shouldn't be stopped between these lines. See this line? You're stupid. Stupid! I thought he was going to slug me. I thought I was going to slug him. He went back to the curb. Peace on earth, I said. The light changed.

I was upset. I was mad. I thought later I should have used the cancer card: You rammed into my bike and I have blood cancer! But that seemed a stretch. That night I went to my desk at Smart U, a communal desk that I'd been squatting in for about three years, and the drawers were locked. There was a vase of flowers (kind of droopy but still bright pink) and a welcome note to someone other than Cancer Bitch, who was now occupying this space. Where was all my stuff? My assiduously collected pile of scratch paper, a few books I'd meant to bring home, originals for course packets. Beyond that, I felt displaced. Because--I had been displaced. Without a note or warning.

Later I went upstairs to the office of Smart U's magazine and there was the box of my precious stuff: a cloth bag, the papers, the hot pot I never use. Some ginseng tea. At least They hadn't thrown everything away.

Today I was on my way to Smart U and thinking about what I would say to the Paper-and-Stuff-Removal Guy: I've been around here instead of the other office for the last few months because I'm getting treatment three times a week for symptoms caused by blood cancer. Of incurable blood cancer! And why didn't you email me about moving me stuff? I have incurable blood cancer! Give me back my drawer!

I was getting so worked up about the incurable part. I had never put it that way before. I do have incurable blood cancer. Polycythemia is chronic. There's no cure. Therefore, not curable. I kept getting sadder and sadder. People have leukemia and they get over it. They're cured. They're in remission. It's gone. PV is never gone. There's the joke (dead serious) about advice to med students: Become an allergist. They never get better and they never die. Except people with PV die, die early, though lately the word is that we could have a near-normal life span. Just gotta watch out for clots. That move up from your legs into your lung or brain and then--

out like a candle.










For info on ordering an actual cancer charge card (pictured at top), click here .
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