Cancer - a Long, Strange Trip

being seriously ill is a singularly bizarre, intense, impersonally intimate trip. serious as in HIV. serious as in MRSAs. serious as in the Big C.

so is being with well(-ish) and spending a lot
of time with someone who is seriously that you seriously care about.

in my case, i'm well-(ish) and my brother was diagnosed with lymphoma about a year ago.


does that sound strange?

good, because it should. he had not been even well-ish for a long time. but the couple of times he was forced to go see someone about it, he went to one of those strip-mall walk-in clinics, where they told him a had a variety of ointment-level health issues and somehow missed the near-necrotic tissue issues.

that was the Cancer, which he had, as opposed
to their suggestions, which he did not...

lesson? second opinion. get one.


this is Lymphoma.

it's a cancer of the lymphatic cells of the body's immune system. there are two fundamental kinds: Hodgkins and non-Hodgkins.

it turns out if you 'lucky', you get Hodgkins.
it's easier to treat, and the treatment
is more likely to be successful.

turns out my brother Gord was not "lucky".

thus diagnosed, the trip really got under way.


at the heart of it, there is fear.

miles and miles and miles of fear. fear as far
as the i can see. the yin of it all is a frequently deadly disease. the yang is the available treatments.

the treatment process may be crude by Star Trek standards, but to someone fifty-something it is akin to a miracle. when i was a kid and the C word came up, that was generally all she wrote.

the few that survived the treatment available looked like people who had been nuked- which they had been. surviving one's own survival seemed like less of a victory and more like an extension, the validity of which was far from guaranteed in the longer term.


one of my brother's treatment options was a stem-cell transplant, which he's just completed. they basically stripped out his immune system and gave him an upgrade.

he now seems to be getting better (touch wood), and in this too, cancer is kind of digital. with the Big C, you're either getting better, or you're getting worse.

you're a one, or you're a zero.

the Big C is not into stasis.

in the longer term.


a Sick person receiving medical care is called a 'patient'. The word patient goes back to a late 14th century French word meaning 'one who suffers' and anyone who is really Sick unfortunately still does.

but over the past year, spending time with my brother, i've wondered more than once if it is just my hyper-active sense of irony that's had me wondering about the play on words...

...because it becomes very clear,
very fast that if one is going
to be a patient, one must be patient.


they are both 'states of being', but differently profound. this is how Wikipedia spells it out:

is the state of endurance under difficult circumstances, which can mean persevering in the face of delay or provocation without acting on annoyance/anger in a negative way; or exhibiting forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties. Patience is the level of endurance one's character can take before negativity. It is also used to refer to the character trait of being steadfast.


more than anything else, being Sick will teach you to wait. you will learn, sooner or later, that waiting is now a big part of  your life. as of Now, your time is worth precious little.

there's waiting to be tested in all kinds of ways, none of which are fun and most of which are either invasive, humiliating, painful and rich in side effects. maybe even all of the above.

once tested, you then wait for the test results to come back, usually matter of days or weeks. you wait for phone calls about appointments that are really more like educated guesses about when you should show up somewhere else and wait for someone to see you.

there's waiting on hold, and waiting for rides, waiting around drugstores for prescriptions to be filled and then waiting for the drugs to take effect. there's waiting for treatments to start and waiting for them to work, while you're waiting for the side effects to fade.

most of this is "institutionalized waiting". it's just the way it is, and in the current political climate, the only change one should reasonably expect
is probably waiting longer.

which is where the adjective - being patient - comes in. it is another kind of waiting. waiting on another level. waiting to feel better.

waiting to be some kind of normal again - not helpless, dependent or weak or a freak. not to be sick all the time or in pain.
waiting for it all to go away.
waiting for it to be over.

waiting for a miracle.


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Police & Thieves demotivators

...remembering those crazy summer days
in Toronto at the G20,
and other good times
over the years around the world...

if you have "authority issues",

demotivational posters funny

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I Read the News Today

In Canada, the Conservative government
continues to stand firmly
on it's lack of principles...

In the United States, the same old
remained the same.

...including Ms Palin...

and in other international news...

while in entertainment today...

while personally...

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11 Excellent Drug Demotivators

so many drugs, so little time

We live in a highly medicated society.
These are some of the more
common drugs around us.
Most of them are illegal,
of course...

if you think drugs are funny,

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10 Star Wars Demotivators

Star Wars Demotivators...
kind of a natural if we're talking geeks
and memes and such...

there's probably billions of them out there,
but these are the best i've seen.

looking for more demotivators?


demotivational posters funny

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Xenophobia Month in Quebec 3 - le Finale

...so how could it get any better in la belle province? how do you come up with an exciting finish to a month of such an incredibly stupid series of events and decisions?

... there was one more variation on the theme of nationalism yet to come - one that would make it loud and clear just how provincial the party apparatchiks of the "nation" of Quebec really are...

fittingly, the grand finale of Xenophobia Month would be a cultural event.


This is a picture of a music group called Arcade Fire and this is the opening of the Wikipedia entry on them:

> Arcade Fire is an indie rock band based in Montreal, Quebec. It consists of the husband and wife duo of Win ButlerRégine Chassagne, along with Will Butler, Richard Reed Parry, Tim Kingsbury, Jeremy Gara, and Sarah Neufeld. Arcade Fire came to prominence when they released their debut album Funeral in 2004 to critical acclaim. The band plays guitar, drums, bass guitar, piano, violin, viola, cello, double bass, xylophone, glockenspiel, keyboard, French horn, accordion, harp, mandolin, and hurdy-gurdy. Most of their instruments are taken on tour, and the multi-instrumentalist band members switch duties throughout shows.<

They are a great band, and they have worked hard over the last 6 years to become one of the finest musical groups currently working the planet over the last 6 years.

They have made 3 albums, one of the most interesting, interactive rock videos ever made and created legendary live performances.

This year, they won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. They have also won this year's Brit Award (sort of an English Grammy) for Best International Album.  They sit on the band's metaphorical mantel alongside a 2008 Meteor Music Award (sort of an Irish) for Best International Album and a 2008 Juno (Canadian) for Alternative Album of the Year.

As "hot" goes in music these days, they are it. Not just hot for "Canadian". Not just hot for "Montreal". We're talking trans-national, inter-continentally hot.

They are also proud Montrealers.

When they won the Grammy, which this year was watched by more than 25 million people, singer Win Butler, originally from Texas, started his thanks speech en anglais, but then added a "Merci to Montreal, Quebec for taking us and giving us a home....".

Band-mate Régine Chassagne (Butler's wife), a franco Montrealer, added: "Merci Montréal. Merci à tout le monde au Québec."

How cool is that?


Be that as it may, within days of their trans-Atlantic awards, the chief organizer of "la Fete Nationale" announced that the band would be welcome to play the event, "as long as they conform to certain guidelines"... which in this case is bureaucrat-speak for "perform entirely in French".

It was not a new ruling or anything. Last year, the master of ceremonies of the Montreal Fete Nationale concert, talk-show host and actor Guy A. Lepage made clear that anglophone artists could only be part of the concert if they sang in French.

Zut alors!


"la Fete Nationale" is a Quebec government-sponsored holiday soiree, held in June each year since 1978 to celebrate Quebec-ness.

It's a replacement for
St. John the Baptist Day, which had been previously celebrated in Quebec since June, 1636.


Twenty-four hours after the czar culturelle de la Fete had made the pronouncement about Arcade Fire, Quebec's culture minister announced she has no problem if an Anglo band — such as Grammy-winning Arcade Fire — ever wanted to sing in English at the Fete nationale.

Voila! un fait accompli!

Alas, the word is that the band already has a gig that night somewhere else.

C'est dommage.


As it happens, also, despite all of the other awards the Arcade Fire has never won a Felix award for anything over the past 6 six years.

But as coincidence would have it, a spokeswoman for the Quebec music industry association ADISQ said recent rule changes mean Arcade Fire's latest Grammy-winning album would be eligible for a Felix at the next awards show in October - in the category of best anglophone album.

They would not be eligible for the award for best rock album - only musicians who perform in French are eligible for that.

But I think that maybe if the band was willing to change it's name to le Feu d'Arcade...


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It's a Bipolar thing...

a few recent thoughts
on the bipolar situation..

and this variation on
a classic illustration...

stay tuned...

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