Humans can smell cancer, just like dogs — at least some people, with some cancers. It sounds ridiculous, but I believe it to be true.
Someone close to me, the fourth in as many months, has been diagnosed with a severe case of cancer. It’s probably been there for a year, and has spread to most of the organs you can name in the lower torso.
This person was always very kind and loving. The hugs from them always felt fine, practiced. But this year, it flipped. It was like hugging a void. You felt like the edges were sticky and pulling inward towards a hole. Every time we hugged my mind raced. There was a repulsion. Not of disgust, but ominous fear. I felt like I was going to catch a disease.
I don’t believe in auras (“the distinctive atmosphere or quality that seems to surround and be generated by a person, thing, or place”). I believe we can simply smell the difference. Something is “off” – probably pheromones or a consciously undetectable chemical odor. Whatever it was, I could feel it. I’ve been thinking about it for a year. Now I know.
This person has been given a 10% chance of surviving the next year. “We’re gonna fight this.” Who? They watch TV. They don’t eat their vegetables. They don’t sleep well. You can’t do that for 40 years and get away with it.
I’m still going to try to convince them to start eating some hippie food, if for anything else but to ease the pain. CBD if they can get over the Catholicism. That fights cancer too, but who are we kidding?
The full story was not delivered until late afternoon. I started drinking before that. There was a sonogram appointment.
The sonographer hears the story. “We’re going over after this appointment. They didn’t tell us the details but we know something is bad.” Her reply: “I hate that. They should just tell you. When my son died in August…”
She had a 15-year-old son who had died two months ago. Suddenly, and without warning. At least we’re getting a few months.
This sonographer comes into work every day, to sonogram expecting mothers. The son she spent 15 years raising just died without warning. Every day she gets up, thinks about her dead child, then goes to see more babies. Happy, nervous mothers. She was there once
The one or two anti-natalists read this blog. They’re good at focusing on pain. So am I
Eleven decedents across two generations, and a small army of siblings, nephews, nieces, and cousins. A mother, still alive, in fact. The person with the diagnosis is the centerpiece of a large family. They are the reason we have a yearly family reunion that nears 100 blood relatives. And that’s not counting friends and church people.
The horror looms again, but this person will go out with a continuous flow of affection and adoration. It won’t be happy, but it will be comforting. They’re believers, as well.
I wonder who will insist on the family reunion next year. It will be a sad one. Several others, with less aggressive cancer, will probably be there. We might have to take a year off.
How does the anti-natalist die? Alone? Do your internet friends show up to your funeral? Maybe you guys should call each other, but what if they doxx you?
Everyone around me is dying. Young and old. Roughly the same story for everyone who ever lived. But maybe you wanted a preview? The conclusion here is the same as in Death (1), which was better-written than this unexpected sequel
In that post, Johnson of Whitecoats left a poem :
Aubade by Philip Larkin
I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain-edges will grow light.
Till then I see what’s really always there:
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I shall myself die.
Arid interrogation: yet the dread
Of dying, and being dead,
Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.
The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse
—The good not done, the love not given, time
Torn off unused—nor wretchedly because
An only life can take so long to climb
Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never;
But at the total emptiness for ever,
The sure extinction that we travel to
And shall be lost in always. Not to be here,
Not to be anywhere,
And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.
This is a special way of being afraid
No trick dispels. Religion used to try,
That vast moth-eaten musical brocade
Created to pretend we never die,
And specious stuff that says No rational being
Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing
That this is what we fear—no sight, no sound,
No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,
Nothing to love or link with,
The anaesthetic from which none come round.
And so it stays just on the edge of vision,
A small unfocused blur, a standing chill
That slows each impulse down to indecision.
Most things may never happen: this one will,
And realisation of it rages out
In furnace-fear when we are caught without
People or drink. Courage is no good:
It means not scaring others. Being brave
Lets no one off the grave.
Death is no different whined at than withstood.
Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape.
It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know,
Have always known, know that we can’t escape,
Yet can’t accept. One side will have to go.
Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring
In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring
Intricate rented world begins to rouse.
The sky is white as clay, with no sun.
Work has to be done.
Postmen like doctors go from house to house.
The one who is dying ate terribly, and slept poorly. They’re losing at least 15 years to this bad deal.
Take care of yourself, if you have the ability to do so. Some of us are too impulsive
It’s worth reminding yourself daily:
1. you’re going to die
2. you can live longer if you try.
It means taking care of your diet, sleeping, moving, socializing, and doing fewer drugs. You may also want to remind yourself of death. Darwin owned a whalebone walking stick, the end carved into a skull shape. It reminded him of death. A memento mori. “These objects remind their owners of the short time people live on earth.”
[related post : You Are What You Eat: Industrial Waste]
I got drunk yesterday, starting around noon, and alienated a handful of people on the internet, several of which are communists.
Are they coming to my funeral? Probably not. Are my children? I expect it… just so long as they don’t resent me for spending so much time with you people.
Until next time