Saturday, April 14, 2012

#55: Don't Ask Why

Remember being a kid and being frustrated and confused when your parents couldn't tell you why something was the way it was? And then being determined to figure it out once you were their age?  Eventually, however, my disappointment exhausted me, and I began to accept (like my parents) that some things cannot be explained.  Our job as human beings is to accept that, and deal with the consequences without letting the unanswered why drive us to the brink of madness.

Despite knowing better than to seek out an answer, I still asked my oncologist why I had cancer. He could tell me with certainty the type of cancer I had, how far it had progressed, how common it was, what drugs I needed to get better, and exactly what the next few months of treatment would hold. It wasn't until I asked why  that he sat silently, as a solemn look came across his face. I could see in the easy shake of his head that he had accepted long ago this question could not be answered.  Modern science had made huge bounds in cancer treatment, but research still wavered on the exact cause.

My own research showed there are some links between lymphoma and pesticides, herbicides, black hair dye, and benzene (a solvent found in pop). Genetics is a common cause for some, but not for me seeing as I have no cancer in my family.  The Emperor of all Maladies taught me a genetic mutation was at the source, but why my mutation meant cancer remains unexplained.

Now, when people ask me why, I give them the same silent, solemn response my oncologist first gave me.  There's no way of ever knowing. I'm left to accept that, and be grateful that what modern science does know is how to get me better.

Despite my acceptance and resolution not to wonder why, I hope that other kids don't become exhausted the way I did, and continue to ask why.  They're the ones, after all, whose determination will eventually answer the question.       

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