It occurred to me after my last blog that nobody really wanted to read about my terminal cancer. Like who the do I think I am? Of course, If I were Valerie Harper and able to waltz my brain tumor around on Dancing with the Stars -- well then we're talking real human interest. Reading about some mid-list author's (and I'm talking extremely low mid list) last days is not exactly a big draw. Clearly, you've got to be somebody to die like somebody.
So what I had thought was a very original and compelling blog idea turns out to be as common as crossover young adult fiction. (Isn't that always the way with us struggling- to-be-original authors?) What could be more dramatic than to follow an author to the very end of her days, her last strangled bon mots, her final feeble exclamation point! I really believed that would get a whole bunch of new subscribers to my blog not to mention sell a book or two or three. Well much to my dismay, death and dying or what I call the Kicking the Bucket School of Literature turned out to be a lot more popular than I thought it was.
Just for example there's Jane Brody's new book:Guide to the Great Beyond: A Practical Primer to Help You and Your Loved Ones Prepare Medically Legally and Emotionally for the End-of-Life. Oh, Jane, what happened to just eating healthy?) Then there's the very depressing Year of Magical Thinking by the wonderful Joan Didion. What can I say about The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, which was so uplifting it depressed me. There's Christopher Hitchins Mortality (if only I had Christopher Hitchen's slice of phrase.) But as brilliant as he is (was) and as masterful as his book, it dribbles off at the end in a kind of verbal death rattle.
I checked out Goodreads. There happens to be 146,147 books listed on under the category of death and dying. There's even a book for children entitled Honey Bear Died. (What was the cause -- too much honey?)
And it's not just terminal illnesses that seem to fascinate us, it's a sickness and disease as well. In this week's People magazine, Bruce Jenner talks about the fact he was diagnosed with Basal cell carcinoma. (Not the most serious form of skin cancer.) "I've been struggling with this for years," he said.
I'm sorry Bruce, but I don't care about your Basal cell carcinoma. This is is about me, my blog, and my cancer. Like Breaking Bad's Walter White, the obscure high school chemistry teacher and me an obscure author of unread books, I have a strong desire to not go quietly into the night. Both Walter and I had enough existing in the great unknown during our lifetimes. Furthermore, I agree with Walter: what's the point in getting cancer if you can't profit from it?
My idea is to turn my cancer into a golden opportunity. Finally, as a frustrated fiction writer I have something real to write about. For those of you who want the icky medical details I'll be happy to provide them. If you want to read my critique of doctors and the medical profession you will get that too. I've learned so many important lessons on my path to the rumored hereafter and I can't wait to share them with you.
Topics I will cover:
1. What doctors say vs. what they really mean.
2. How to handle that very annoying pain scale: "On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your pain?" (Always give them the answer in fractions.)
3. Things not to attempt with one hand.
4. You think re-writing is hell, try re-diagnosing.
5. How to throw yourself an elaborate memorial without spending a penny.
6. Let's talk "deadlines."
And more much more. Do I, do I really think having a terminal illness makes me suddenly wiser about life? Yes I do! More importantly, I see the humor and irony in having just one hand to write this with -- and it's the wrong fucking hand.
Next week: catheters. You may want to...