Surviving Cancer isn’t a Demonstration of Courage.

August 18, 2006

On Monday night I went to a White Sox game and was there for their opening ceremony. That night was cancer survivor night and for around 10 minutes people paraded around the park demonstrating their pride at having survived cancer. Now if you think surviving cancer demonstrates courage what do you thing dying from cancer shows you to be? Are you a loser, a person who just didn’t have the moral rectitude to kill off those malfunctioning cells? That if only you were a better person you would respond positively to these doses of radiation. Alright you can hold that point of view, but its up to you to defend it to the relatives of those who died from cancer. But then in the second of their three ceremonial first pitches they demonstrated their hypocrisy with their announcement, “So and So had a successful operation on his cancer before it returned now it is in remission.” So from their moralistic view of the universe this person started out rotten, alchohol, immorality and that stuff. Suddenly he had an operation and was revealed to be a great person. Ah, but wait, it has come back what a rotten man he must be. Wait, its in remission, have him throw out a ceremonial first pitch.

I think Lance Armstrong was overhyped, but at least he accomplished something. Chemotherapy is extremely draining and he dominated a grueling race for 6 years. These people did nothing special. They just survived cancer, nothing else.

Of course, this trend is a mere continuation of the athlete worship the sports media encouraged. Steve Garvey and Pete Rose were the moral beacons of the 80s and this morality was the reason for their success supposedly. Maybe, just maybe, the athletes succeed because they have superhuman hand-eye coordination and are athletic. Maybe these cancer patients survived because of luck not because of any specific, superficial thing we can see.