Thanks to Adam for linking this powerful and distressing piece by Sara Douglass.
In case you didn't know, fantasy author Sara Douglass has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. In this post, she speaks out about her illness and the thought of facing death.
Here's an extract:
Modern attention spans for the chronically ill are horribly short, probably because chronic or terminal illness in today’s society is horribly tedious. Tedious, because we are all so uncomfortable with it.
Instead, too often, it is up to the sick and the dying to comfort the well and the un-dying.
Just take a moment to think about this, take a moment to see if you have ever experienced it yourself. The dying — sweet, stoic, silent — comforting those who are to be left behind. I know I experienced it when first I was diagnosed with cancer. I found myself in the completely unreal situation of having, over and over, to comfort people when I told them I had cancer. In the end I just stopped telling people, because almost invariably I was placed into the bizarre situation of comforting the well by saying everything would be all right (which, of course, it won’t, but that’s what people needed to hear to make them comfortable about me again).
The dying have been indoctrinated from a very young age into this sweet, stoic and silent state. They earn praise for always being ‘positive’ and ‘bright’ and ‘never complaining’. Perhaps they are bright and positive and uncomplaining, but I am certain they lay in their beds with their fear and anger and grief and pain and frustration completely repressed while modern expectation forces them, the dying, to comfort the living.
I am sick of this tawdry game. I am sick to death of comforting people when all I want is to be comforted. I am sick of being abandoned by people for months on end only to be told eventually that ‘I knew they were thinking of me, right?’ I am sick of being exhorted to be silent and sweet and stoic. I know I face a long and lonely death and no, I don’t think I should just accept that.
I don’t think I should keep silent about it.
You can read Douglass' moving post here.
If you have been blessed and have never had anyone near you suffer from cancer or another terminal illness, then after reading this article you'll understand what drove me to agree to work on Speculative Horizons on the condition that part of the proceeds go to cancer research. . .
My thoughts are with her. . .