life beyond cancer

Cancer, the Mystery. We, the initiates.

Hey my people,

When you run into friends after you've been to Cancerville, they smile and hug you, but there's a certain holding back. Right? A certain awkward silence that was never there before. You can read their minds, although you don't want to. They're thinking: Now that you're back from the dead, who are you?

In a world where cancer is rarely a death trip, that seems really unfair. Like, I've just been through hell and now I have to comfort YOU?

Well, yeah. You do. Cancer is a Mystery, the ancient kind, with a capital M. It's an initiation into a certain kind of priesthood. People fear you afterward, or put you on a pedestal, or get antsy and say dumb things and spill coffee in your lap. That's just how it is. We're different.

After cancer, we'll cook dinner and watch TV and walk the dog. But we'll never be the same.

The first time I had cancer, I wanted to forget it ever happened. The second time, I was so angry, I wanted to rip the world in two. The third time, though, I opened my eyes and saw that I'm in the world's best company. We've been tested, you and I. We've seen the Mystery, and if we can't talk about it to those who stayed behind, is that really so surprising?

Hey my people: That's how I start my posts because that's how I feel about you. If that seems presumptuous—like, if you'd rather be anywhere but in this club—I understand. But I want to be here if you pass this way again. You can't go BACK home after cancer. But you can live to build a new home up ahead. I'm here to help you find it.

Happy Dia de los Muertos! Because why not?

Hey my people, here in L.A., it's not just Halloween we're all getting ready for. No, in this territory that once was Mexico, we're all about the Day of the Dead. This isn't maudlin and it isn't weird. It's Halloween with the mystery left in. It's a time to remember all the ones we love, and by remember, I mean party. The Dia de los Muertos tradition centers on the creation of figurines that can be scary or endearing, like this esquelato (skeleton) made by kids at a local elementary school in tribute to Michael Jackson. In a blog about life beyond cancer, why am I bringing up such a dicey thing as, you know, death? Because it's good to remember that whenever death comes, it might very well be a party. Why not?