Is this a fight?

We often talk about fighting diseases. We say, “I’m fighting a cold.” And people talk about “fighting cancer”. They might say, “she won the battle against cancer”, or “he fought bravely, but ultimately lost his fight against cancer.”

Having cancer sometimes feels like I’m in a fight. I try to maintain an even temper, find solace and peace, and not cry out too often. I try to do what I can to be a good patient, take the prescribed medicine, ask the right questions, find out what more can be done, all without being a nuisance. I try to make the right moves in this fight.

But it is not really a fight at all. A “fight” suggests some kind of fairness to being in the ring. Like, I somehow qualified to be there squaring off with Mike Tyson or Manny Pacquiao.

Can a single human being be in a fight with a tornado, a flood, an earthquake? Can you be in a fight against a force of nature? A cold, maybe. We can fight a cold, because everyone gets a cold from time to time, and it goes away.

But this cancer, this stage 4 pancreatic cancer, is not like that. It is a force of a nature, unremitting in its brutality. I am not qualified to be in this fight, nor do I think is anyone else. One cannot beat this thing; one can only live longer.

If there is a fight being fought, it’s the medical community who’s doing it, who’s working on new medicines and clinical trials to see what can be done. I believe these doctors and researchers will eventually, in the next few decades perhaps, find a cure and beat pancreatic cancer. But I will not be here when they do so.

It is funny how it stills feels like a fight sometimes. If I die from this disease, which is likely, it feels like I will have lost. But if I win, it would feel like it was luck alone that let me win. I guess if I were in a fight with Tyson or Pacquiao, it would be much the same.

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