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The Price of Experience: Writings on Living with Cancer

By Mike Marquesee

Author and political activist Mike Marqusee used to be clinically determined with a number of myeloma, a kind of blood melanoma, in the summertime of 2007. at the beginning, disinclined to percentage his distress with others, he used to be reluctant to jot down approximately his sickness. yet he then got here to achieve that doing so supplied a worthwhile continuity along with his existence as a author ahead of contracting the sickness, and a manner of attaining out to a much broader global that the affliction made bodily much less obtainable. Writing allowed him to handle what he observed as a number of insidious platitudes that encompass melanoma, frequently hooked up to the individualistic concept that the patient needs to be courageous in combating the illness, with the inevitable corollary that those that succumb have, in a few degree, introduced it on themselves.

And so Marqusee starts off to jot down approximately his affliction. not only his personal signs and emotions, however the responses of acquaintances to the scoop that he's ailing and how those mirror broader social attitudes in the direction of the ill. He describes the political struggles happening in St Bartholomew’s, the London health facility that cares for him, and the concern in Britain’s nationwide wellbeing and fitness carrier (NHS) extra in general, at a time of harrowing cutbacks. sizeable Pharma, whose medicines preserve Marqusee alive yet are bought to the NHS at costs reflecting the facility and greed of a ruthless extortionist, is the topic for relatively astringent scrutiny.
The observations approximately melanoma in those pages are by no means trite or sentimental. they're acute, relocating, impassioned and political. they usually express vital, shared truths, either own and social, approximately an sickness that might have an effect on one in 3 humans during their lives.

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What have I performed to be spared this affliction, to be granted a remain of execution, denied to others who ensue to fall at the flawed facet of the statistical median? What burdens does survival position on me? How am i able to end up priceless of this reprieve? How ought I to exploit this additional time? and what kind of of it's going to there be? Surviving, it seems, is a classy company. There are helpful possibilities but additionally demanding situations. To what finish do I live to tell the tale? How do i select my priorities? For me, “remission” is one more part in an extended disease, one other section certain to come to an finish.

A few humans suppose buoyed whilst neighbors praise their “bravery. ” Others, together with me, locate the bravery rhetoric round melanoma deeply misconceived. It shifts accountability directly to the sufferer; for those who succumb on your melanoma, or maybe when you simply whinge approximately it, are you short of in “bravery”? while a person tells me I’ve been “brave” I don’t recognize what to make of it. There’s no selection within the subject. it is a entrance line it’s very unlikely to escape from. Then there’s “how are you? ”, an off-the-cuff enquiry, in perform little greater than a salutation, that acquires all types of demanding situations for the individual with melanoma.

In remark threads and during emails, participants stated and mirrored at the so much acute pain and loss. Their conditions and health problems have been usually a lot worse than mine—except that I’ve realized there rather is not any hierarchy of soreness. The poet Heinrich Heine spent his final years limited to mattress by means of a mysterious and brutal disease. After a protracted and tortuous highbrow trip, he had finally arrived at his personal hugely personalized trust in a god who served for him a different objective. “Thank God that i've got a God again,” he wrote to a chum, “so that during severe ache i will let myself to curse and blaspheme.

The development was once a surprising one for soccer lovers. It didn’t subject no matter if they’d heard of Muamba prior to. That demise or near-death might strike so arbitrarily, so unexpectedly, in the course of a video game, an workout of strength and spontaneity, was once profoundly unsettling. Banks paid a heartfelt tribute to the “deeply outstanding” care he’d got from the NHS. numerous others facing melanoma will echo that. His testimony is yet one more reminder of ways a lot we stand to lose within the present “makeover” of the NHS.

The disease has its personal chronology, a separate time relocating ahead at an asymmetric cost. Hours, days, months, years don’t stand of their ordinary proportions. unfortunately, it additionally has a teleology, continuing inexorably in the direction of an finish aspect. I didn’t begin writing approximately melanoma till greater than years after I’d began remedy. I didn’t suppose relatively pressured to percentage my miseries with strangers. in reality, a reluctance to take action was once one of many purposes it took me your time to handle the topic. a lot of what any heavily ailing individual endures is deepest and intimate.

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