A Brief Manifesto Change

Most will have noticed I changed the header on this blog page and this blog’s Facebook page to a Carrie Fisher quote. I’m not tired of my Johnny “Rotten” Lydon quote—I likely never waver from his “People like their safe world. They don’t like realizing the way things actually are,” theory. That really applies to my view of the cancer-you-must-be-positive experience. And really, isn’t it just a punk version of Nietzsche’s “sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed”?

Fisher’s observation, “I think I do overshare. It’s my way of trying to understand myself. … It creates community when you talk about private things,” is really what my blog is about anyway. I’ve often worried that I lack conviction in my blog posts—it seems I’m usually raising questions without answers, rather than ranting or making pronouncements anymore. Most of my entries seem to be me trying to figure things out. Sure, when I began, I was all about loudly criticizing the Pink rah-rah attitudes—and I still hate that crap. But nowadays I want to look deeper, really dive into how this stupid cancer culture exists and possibly how it can be changed—maybe by trying to understand it. For example, it is no longer enough for me to loudly proclaim how unfair or ridiculous the competition between diseases and cancers is—I wish to understand it, and point a finger at myself for sometimes participating is such a useless and petty practice.  Or rather than just shouting “down with Pink rah-rah”, I wish to acknowledge—and to figure out how to live with the loathsome sexualization of my disease—all the nonsense which contributed to the creation of medicine that has prolonged my life.

These are my private thoughts—am I building community by my overshare?

On the interwebz, many bemoan 2016—calling it the worst. It isn’t, of course. It just so happens the people in my social circle tend to be like-minded and in my age range, so these celebrities that have died meant much to us. And of course many share my horror at our current political situation on the US. So yeah, 2016 is kind of the worst for some people.

I know it is silly to mourn a celebrity I didn’t know. My next blog post, the one I meant to put out here this week, will touch on that in a deeper way. But I saw a great tweet somewhere along the way pointing out how it is NOT silly to mourn celebs/artists, because they often helped us figure ourselves out.

That sure is true, or at least, some of these people were like a timeline for me. My mom was a big Bowie fan; he was part of the soundtrack of my life before real memories were formed. Carrie Fisher was my childhood. I’ve often written of my stupid “Star Wars” admiration. Seeing that movie in the theater when I was 5 or 6, it was and remains the single biggest life-changing experience—yes, bigger than cancer! Of course now as an adult I understand all the hero’s journey/Joseph Campbell stuff. But back then, I just understood it the way it was meant—all the good vs evil and mythical themes. And of course consumerism, ha ha! I still have my action figures!

When I was kid I ran into The Kmart's toy section to part with my hard earned allowance and cash on a new Star Wars toy. I still go straight to the Star Wars toy section 40 years later--nothing changes, ever! I just don't buy anything. But it's like I can't help myself, I have to go to see the Star Wars toys!
When I was kid I ran into The Kmart’s toy section to part with my hard earned allowance and cash on a new Star Wars toy. I still go straight to the Star Wars toy section 40 years later–nothing changes, ever! I just don’t buy anything. But it’s like I can’t help myself, I have to go to see the Star Wars toys!

Just last week I managed to see “Rogue One”, and then re-watched “The Force Awakens” (only my second time seeing it, and I’m sure I’ve seen the original trilogy hundreds of times, even when they’re on TV, just in the background). I thought to myself how great it was to see a female in the lead or hero role. And especially the diverse cast in “Rogue” (love, love, love Diego Luna for a long time now). Of course I never questioned Leia’s military position in the original films. Sure, she was “rescued” in the first one, but she never seemed like other Disney princess types. Still, Rey and Jyn are much better now. It feels like those people making the films now know that little girls like myself were buying those action figures too. So while the films are not perfect (man have I read some bad reviews of “Rogue”), for me they are simply gratifying. I, as a female, am also part of the “Star Wars” geekdom, and am relevant.

Prince and George Michael of course were my pre-teen years. I didn’t love Michael as much as the Duran Duran guys. And it was because of Wham and Duran that I bought Teen Beat (or whatever) and found The Cure, The Smiths, Depeche Mode. Which, in turn, sent me down the path of punk and what was then called “college rock”—and made me the weirdo I am today. (Well, Prince was always on the weirdo side, even when he was the top selling artist.) In my alterna-girl phase I rejected Duran and Wham, and even Michael Jackson and Prince to a degree. When I became an adult I re-embraced all those things, recognized the artistry, the brilliance.

TL;DR version—yes it is fine to mourn celeb artists because they help us discover ourselves. Writing this made me realize just how much and how deeply shaped I was by these folks. Prince in particular, has cast a pall over the year for me. I wasn’t a huge fan, but I did consider him a bit genius—and I don’t use that term lightly. I truly thought him special and it just seems unbelievable he could die, like ever.

Of course, reality sets in. I don’t call these people heroes or idols—I don’t like that. Idolizing someone dehumanizes the person—and they are only human. And I realize how odd it is to cry over celebs when there are so many metastatic cancer patients that deserve to stay alive—and that is where our energies must go—finding ways via advocacy to make that reality.

Still, Fisher’s quote resonated with me deeply. I heard the “Fresh Air” interview when she said it. Likely I was busy working and didn’t take time to jot it down. Just because she died does not make it more true—I just happened to see the quote pulled out, NPR posted it after her death. And it just seemed right to make it my header, to acknowledge that what she said a few weeks ago sums up quite nicely what I’ve been trying to do since I started this blog 4 years ago.

I’ll go back to my snarling, punk rock Rotten quote soon. But now seems like a good time to recognize I’ve been following General Leia Organa’s example all along.

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Author: Cancer Curmudgeon

Oct 2010 diagnosed with Stage 3, HER2+ Breast Cancer. Completed treatment Jan 2012. Waaaaaay over pink. Applying punk rock sensibility to how I do cancer.

9 thoughts on “A Brief Manifesto Change”

  1. Hi CC,
    I love that quote – so much truth in it. I’m pretty sure I over-share too, in fact, I know I do and this is pretty odd since I’m an introvert. Oh well. Ironically, I saw “Rogue One” this week on the very day Carrie Fisher died. Heard the news just before we left for the theater. Uncanny seeing her face at the end. When celebrities die, I think it reminds us we are all the same. We are all human, mere mortals. Plus, as you mentioned, there’s that timeline thing for each of us. I found it very interesting that many were attributing Carrie’s death to her substance abuse struggles when, in fact, heart disease likely killed her. A form of denial perhaps. Thank you for writing this. Made me ponder about a few things. Looking forward to reading more of your posts in 2017. xx

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    1. Aww, thank you very much Nancy! Yes, the CGI faces–hers and Cushings–were a little off for me. But it’s all just fantasy anyway (although I do understand the issues of using a dead actor’s likeness after death, that is a real quagmire).
      I had to roll my eyes when I read the “drug use” crap that started to appear in these year end pieces (for George Michael and Prince too). I understand the whole “drugs are bad” thing, and will be taking a swipe at that myself in the next post. But still the smug superiority was just awful. I’m sure a few would add in Fisher’s case that OK, maybe not the cocaine, but her weight. But her weight gain was a side effect of her bi-polar medication. Like, we just can’t win. Some will always need to blame so they can feel “safe”–how shocked they will be when they learn death comes for us all.

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  2. I so agree with Nancy. When celebs die, we are reminded that all of us are mortal, vulnerable. And we get a chance to acknowledge how much their creative work gave to our lives, providing memories and so many moments of resonance when their work helped us understand our own lives and feel less alone, more connected to our collective humanity. Life would be very much less tolerable without art. I do know that there were some good things about 2016, but nonetheless, I honestly hate this year, and I can’t help but dread the next one. If it weren’t for you and our like-minded friends, I’d lose my mind. xoxo, Kathi

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    1. Have you seen some of the science/medical articles lately, tho? Great contributors (man who developed small pox vaccine, a few others) died this year, and some of the medical sites on Facebook have been a little snippy–like, this person is more important than a celebrity death. I understand the frustration, but it’s been a little dispiriting. So your reminder that life would be less tolerable without art–yes thank you! having worked in non-profit arts before and during cancer, I came to think it was a waste of time–unimportant compared to “real” work of helping people. I still struggle with that.
      Agree–if it were not for you, Nancy and others–I’d be lost too! xoxoxWendi

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      1. Yes, we have lost some giants in many other fields as well, who have made a tremendous difference in so many lives. A different kind of contribution, and crucial, but this isn’t a contest, is it? Think of how much just music has meant to us both? I wouldn’t want to live in a world without it. xoxo

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    1. Thanks Marie. Like I said, I heard the quote when I listened to her interview and it struck me–but sadly it took her death for me to be reminded of it and understand just how much it fit into the cancer/illness blogosphere. Thanks–I will do so!!

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  3. I love that quote as well. I think I over-share but it keeps my head above water. I too would like to reflect more about the other side of things — why people say and behave a certain way, to try to understand. About all the recent famous people who have died, you expressed your sentiments so well and I can certainly relate. In a way I feel like part of my childhood dies when someone who has impacted my life as a child dies. We create such special connections with the people/things that pull us away from sadness and pain. We wish they existed forever, maybe because they sort of represented “hope” in some way and so it’s still chocking when they’re gone. I guess it’s time to create more meaning in my life. Hard to do these days.

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