Monday, December 19, 2011

Snake Oil

Don't eat and don't breathe.  That seems to be what the quacks are telling me these days.

They point out that cancer needs nutrients to grow.  They point out that oxygen produces free radicals, which cause DNA damage.  Both are true, but what's to be done about either?  It's like saying I can prevent excessive bleeding by draining all my blood on a daily basis; it might work but it would kill me first.  I guess that's why they can claim it cures all forms of cancer; technically it does, along with every other physical, mental and social ill I may have for the rest of eternity.  Then they tout all sorts of all natural things I can put in my body to do... something.  Something magical.  They talk like cancer itself is a toxin and that carcinogens contain that toxin, so that if I have cancer I can somehow starve it by no longer ingesting these carcinogens.

I don't know if these people are naive or cruel.  I like to think they're naive but some have made a career of it.  Dr. Oz is a monster.  It's one thing to peddle sunflower seeds as a way to reduce wrinkles or whatever such nonsense but it is beyond irresponsible to offer a cancer patient an "alternative cure."  All it does is encourage them to forgo potentially life-saving treatment in favor of something that has never worked and will never work.

It's hard, when you have cancer and when someone who loves you believes the pseudoscience.  They send you these articles about these miracle cures.  They do it because they love you and want to help you.  They lie to themselves, and take false hope and false comfort in those lies.

And you, for that split second, before you realize what you're looking at... you share that hope.  That animal part of you, the one who just wants this all to go away, sees that someone is offering a cure.  Someone is offering a way to make it all go away, and no matter how well-educated you are, or how much you know, or even if you can immediately recognize a hoax, it still stings.  The lie speaks to a place more primal than logic or education.  The place that can make a grown man as helpless as a child, literally crying for his mommy, or alternatively, react entirely on adrenaline, faster and stronger than he ever could be were he thinking at all clearly.

So my soul is stirred in that fraction of a second.  It feels hopeful.

Then the hope is immediately crushed, because it is a false hope.  It is a cruel hope, peddled by the heartless who know that so many are so desperate to keep hoping, and keep watching, and keep drawing those precious advertiser dollars.  Even though I don't believe in the hope for even an instant, it still cuts me deep.  It is an offense.

For while my family may send me a message because they love me and want me to be well, the message reads, "I don't care if you die in agony as long as I'm financially successful."

And that, I cannot abide.

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