Cancer as Demonology and Defeat


“No one needs to be told what their attitude to illness should be – least of all by advertising agencies.”— Margaret McCartney, BMJ, Aug 15, 2014

Penning words today as the sweet smells of rain come through the worn mosquito netting, a crisp waft to break a cursed humidity in a north Queensland town. The Great Bower Bird finds himself outside with a bossy squawk; the dull yet beautiful brown honey eater makes a dash for the torn banana on the bird feeder. And there is cancer in the air, a plumed serpent, slithering. Who will you bite next?

There is nothing quite like that most sinister and remarkable of creations. It is supreme in its killing capacity; it rents and empties gradually or immediately. Prisoners are only held captive for the duration needed to inflict the desirable damage. Humans have managed to come up with a term that sounds, in itself, less than triumphant: remission.

Cancer is a mighty force of nature, an architecture that springs around the body with seemingly committed enthusiasm. Like a distraught and eager lover, it moves in on your mind, cloaking and stifling the body. It occupies your being with battalions, annexes your soul with the might of an entire occupation force. It steals life from you through stealthy nips, meaty snaps and, at times, enormous bites. It encourages paralysis of will, entropy, the evacuation of living sentiment. Cancer be you, hybrid remarkable beast, execution mercilessly effective.

The remarkably varied and…

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