** Linnea Olson at Outliving Lung Cancer wrote an interesting post called Just Not a Just World. This is a comment on her post, but because my comment is so long, I’m publishing it here. (That, and it finally lets me scratch “write blog post” off my list.) **
As a fellow LC patient/client/mutant/whatever we call ourselves, I follow your blog and have learned enough about you through your blog to know that what you write is thoughtful and heartfelt. Your intelligence, indomitable spirit and optimism shine through and are surely an inspiration to many who read your story.
However, with this post, you’ve scraped up against what has lately become a raw nerve with me since I got handed this bag of snakes and shoved down a road called cancer. And that is this let-me-make-sure-you-know-I-never-smoked clause that appears in almost everything I’ve read by a “never-smoker” with lung cancer.
I applaud your intent in this post. Really, I do. And I get where you’re going, but your message would have rung truer with me had you not found it necessary to mention that “never ever touched a cigarette.”
I don’t care whether you smoked or not. Your insistence that I know you never smoked feels more like a thinly veiled device to establish your superiority over someone who did smoke and has lung cancer rather than as an illustration of the arbitrary nature of life, which was the theme of your post (shit happens).
Had you analogized, “I’ve never been exposed to radon, so why me?” to support your theme, it would have been just as effective.
Whenever a writer or speaker decries the stigma around smoking and lung cancer, but feels compelled to let you know that he or she never smoked, I’m fairly certain that person still has a way to go to rid his or her own psyche of the stigma. It lingers. Subliminally.
But it’s time to make a conscious effort to change, to be more aware of what we write and say in the context of smoking and lung cancer. Anti-smoking campaigns have done an excellent job of raising awareness, but they’ve lasered and locked on lung cancer as the single, inevitable, awful, your fault consequence of smoking. Self-inflicted. Therefore, unworthy of support.
Maybe it behooves us all, especially those who write or speak publicly about lung cancer, to recondition ourselves by (1) omitting mention of anyone’s smoking status in our compositions and conversations, and (2) informing and reinforcing readers and listeners about the many other cancers and fatal diseases are associated with smoking.
You are an important voice in the LC blogging community, Linnea. Your words matter.
- bird baths