Since The Cancer, a lot of friends have said things to me like “This seems so unfair. You’ve been through so much trauma already, and now this? Why does this have to happen to you?” But strangely, I haven’t asked that question myself. I haven’t wondered why I had to be the one who got cancer. Which made me wonder, why haven’t I wondered why?
At first, I thought it might be because I am not religious. I don’t believe in a divine plan, and even if there WAS one, I don’t think God would be such a dick that he would give someone cancer.As I’ve said before, if it brings you comfort to think that God did this and it’s for some important reason, well, OK, but that doesn’t bring me any comfort, and if you say it to me, I will probably tell you that I think your god is an asshole. (Freedom of religion: it cuts both ways, doesn’t it?) Because, I think illnesses happen because they just happen, and it’s not fair or unfair, it just is. This is also why I think health care should be a right and not a commodity, but we’ll save that for another post.
So, yeah, I thought, maybe it’s just my world view that makes me not ask why. But, then I thought back to how I reacted to The Boy’s early birth, and remembered: I did a LOT of asking why, but from a medical perspective. Not at first, but as time went on, I desperately needed a reason for why my water broke, how this all got started, what went wrong. And none of the doctors could tell me. They had hypotheses, sure, but no way to prove them.
For a while, I blamed myself. I must be the reason, if only I had done something differently, if only I had been more in tune with my body. Looking for a reason for the shitty things that happen can be a dangerous thing. It can lead you to blame people who aren’t really at fault. Including yourself.
It took a long time and plenty of therapy to come to accept that I would never know for sure why The Boy came early, but eventually I did. Doctors just don’t know all there is to know about the human body yet. They are researching as fast as they can, and they know a hell of a lot more now than they did even 10 years ago, let alone 100 or 1000 years ago. But they don’t know everything. And sometimes, they just don’t have the answers. Doctors know a lot more about cancer now than they used to–they know enough to tell people not to smoke, and to wear sunscreen–but they don’t have all the answers about why cancer happens. Especially when it’s a rare form, like mine.
We did ask my oncologist, who is extremely kind as well as extremely smart, how this could be stage IV already, when I just found the lump, and I do self exams regularly. (My paternal grandmother had breast cancer in her 70’s, lived 10 more years and died of non-cancer old people diseases, but her cancer was enough to get me doing regular exams.) He said that my type of cancer is really aggressive, and that there was nothing I could have done differently to prevent this from becoming stage IV.
See? Shit just happens. That was a totally adequate answer for me.