Tuesday, January 6, 2009

We are all precancerous...

I watch a lot of night time TV. When you live in the suburbs, they roll up the sidewalks at 9:30 every night, so there's really little else to do on a day-by-day basis. Organizing those box socials you're all so damn fond of takes a lot of work and being a lazy kind of guy by nature, I can really only be expected to pull them off on a semi-annual basis. The bills for the ice sculptures alone are GHASTLY. That being the case, most nights after work the missus (she doesn't blog on as regular a basis as I do, but if you listen really closely, you can hear her ranting in "out loud" words most of the time. It doesn't give one the opportunity to savor every letter like my awesome "written down" words do, but it's way more violent. And I'm always pro-violence. ALWAYS. Anyway, go back up and read the beginning of the sentence again, because by now you've forgotten it.) and I usually mellow out with a movie or, failing anything interesting, the three to four hours of Friends they run every night on the CW. (Ed Note: I hate Friends. Once the monkey left, it was all downhill. You should feel bad for liking it.)

All exposition aside, I've been noticing a commercial lately for the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. I don't know if these commercials are a nationwide thing, but a quick perusal of their website shows facilities all over America, so chances are they run on your TV, too. The next time one comes on, pay close attention to it. If you're like me (read: filled with white-hot hatred the texture and flavor of delicious marshmallow Fluff on, like, a 24/7 basis), you'll vomit with rage.

"But K-Dawg," you might say (if you were one of the many people who refers to me as such in both conversation and thought), "Surely you're not going to shank a new one into the soft belly of a cancer hospital! They treat sick and dying people, and give families with no hope some glimmer of brightness in an otherwise bleak and unforgiving universe..."

Oh hell yes I am, Chester. Oh hell yes I am.

Let me clarify that: I have nothing but respect for the doctors, nurses, physician's assistans, hospice care workers, orderlies, accountants, janitors, gift shop employees and whoever else makes up the staff of a hospital or otherwise gives care to those of us who are in our most needy hour. People who work everyday fighting disease, treating injuries, and generally tapping Death on the shoulder and saying "Hey, look over there, what the hell is that?!" so that we might have an improved quality of life; so that a child will spend another Christmas with his grandma, so that Uncle Walt can walk on his own these days, and so any of us get to spend just a little while longer in this crazy-ass funhouse called life, are fucking heroes. Hands down.

And I don't have anything against the buildings themselves. Some of the architecture is very nice, quite modern and tasteful.

That being said: Fuck that commercial and whatever self-indulgent fuck decided that that's how they wanted all the people (and buildings) above represented to the people they're trying to reach.

Basically, said commercial is just a long string of testimonials from various patients (or actors, I really don't know): "When I was diagnosed with cancer of the (body part), I thought 'Damn, Gina. I'm wicked screwed.' I went to the hospital and the doctors told me 'You're totally gonna die in, like, a week. Seriously, you should probably start giving your shit away now. Here's some morphine. Drink it all, it'll be easier that way. Peace out, dead guy.' And then they threw some gang signs at me. But then I went to Cancer Treatment Centers of America, and in less than a week, not only did they cure the fuck out of my cancer, but now I can fly and have heat vision!"

Ok, so that's a little hyperbole for you. But once the actualy commercial spun around in my brain for awhile and I'd seen it a few more times, that's the impression I got: "Your doctors don't give a shit, they're dumber than hell and they don't care if you die. We've got some magic potion that not one single other doctor in modern medicine has ever heard of. Call us, and we'll cure you. That's right: WE CAN CURE CANCER!" Seriously, watch this commercial and tell me different.

Now, I can only imagine a doctor in an oncology ward having to watch this. Or being someone fighting cancer having to watch this. These people deal with the gravity of these diseases every day. Every little positive step is a miracle, and every setback is crushing. And then you hear about these guys at Cancer Treatment Centers of America, and your hopes get lifted, and you spend a shitload of money to get there and you find out that they're just plugging along hoping to get lucky and find an effective treatment for each of their patients the same as every other oncologist in the world. That's what really bothered me about this thing: the smugness. The sense that "All other oncologists are dumber than us. Fuck those guys."

I'm sure that the doctors and everyone else at Cancer Treatment Centers are working their asses off to help their patients. Or researching the hell out of any thread that might pan out to something useful. Or holding their patient's hand while giving them bad news, or good news, or telling them jokes, or whatever. They're probably awesome doctors. My only point is there are a lot of awesome doctors in the world, doing the same thing at hospitals all over the place. They're all trying like hell to make their patients' lives better. It's their job. And they know that THEY CANT CURE CANCER. And they don't claim to. But they keep trying. Watch a St. Jude's commercial to see how it ought to be done. They tell you, "Listen, cancer sucks. It sucks hard. And we can't cure it. But we're trying, and we're getting there. And little Jimmy here is probably gonna live long enough to get laid after the prom because of it." AND they'll get Robin Williams to say it.

Patch Adams out, fuckers.

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