The Custom Common Kumos
Age: 1 year, 10 months, 3 weeks
Born: January 16th, 2018
Adopted: 1 year, 10 months, 3 weeks ago
Adopted: January 16th, 2018
This pet has been nominated for the Pet Spotlight!
- Level: 1
- Strength: 10
- Defense: 10
- Speed: 10
- Health: 10
- HP: 10/10
- Intelligence: 0
- Books Read: 0
- Food Eaten: 0
- Job: Unemployed
This story is a tribute to my dearest friend Jano, who has lost his father recently to cancer. This text was written by him.
In my child's imagination, when my age was still at the beginning of the two digits, the cancer for me had this half intangible form. A disease in its purest form, if that makes sense.
Unlike my many ear pains, it had no known bacteria or causative viruses to face. It also didn’t had as many effective remedies such as the clavulin I took when my throat got bad again, and then got better soon.
It was a monster figure, difficult to define and delimit and combat, like a dragon hidden in the bottom of some random cave, that only occasionally went out in the evenings to hurt unsuspecting people, and hid again without being seen by anyone. In roles that would reverse years later, my mom explained me that "our own cells go crazy and grow too much".
I remember that when we were watching The Bucket List, or Rocky or any other film, this metaphorical dragon would come up again for fractions of a second, out of focus, distant. He would come, and in a very quick confrontation injure some character who, after many metaphors and quotations, recovered or didn't. It left in its wake a mess and only a poorly elaborate silhouette, which we as spectators, almost left to assume the work that the writers wisely failed to portray, filled with what frightened us.
But things are not quite like that. This fight, in fact, is much more well developed. The formless monster who lives there and runs in the dark, actually walks around quietly and close to you, in broad daylight, identified. Such a histological type, such present receptors, absent receptors, resistance to such drugs, and on such a stage. You can see it closely and sharply, count the claws and scales. You know exactly how many inches your teeth have, and exactly how many inches those teeth have gained since your last encounter – because, of course, you meet often. Because, of course, cancer seems to me a lot more than a state the person assumes rather than something out there that occurs.
I think that is the great fault of stories and movies: it is to see this dragon as something so external to the individual who suffers from it. It is seen as a serious injury inflicted by a now outlawed criminal, when he is so personal, internal, and constant. In fact: "your own cells going crazy" – a wrong transformation that is a part of the patient as much as his height, his myopia, his high blood pressure.
And these transformations are not few. The diluted serum medication bag comes with more warnings and more colors. Hospital visits, and more frequent ones, are already with changing of clothes and prepared hygiene materials. Time, time absolutely dilates: wait for reassessment, for return, for new examination, for new result, for new infusion – "patient" with all the power of the word – while time becomes so more precious and scarce. The disease appears in countless facets of the day to day, and we see this whole process as a fight, a war, hoping for a triumphal victory or, in the case of defeat, a valiant fall and a sense of accomplishment.
But things are not quite like that. So great is the narrative appeal of this "struggle", of this "battle to overcome disease," that we do not realize how important, and frankly more noble, is the battle to simply ‘be.’ For in spite of everything, still wake up, eat, and brush your teeth. In spite of everything, to listen to a joke and laugh to tell another one. To shake hands, to hug.
We cling to heroic victories and defeats in such a way that we do not even think that the route can be detoured abruptly, or may be anticlimactic.
We like it a lot and are attracted to the emotional farewells and careful speeches we see in the movies. We want a moment of "life is not about how strong you beat" when we receive 4 or 5 minutes of pure wisdom, distilled into the most eloquent way possible. We feel determined and expect all the answers soon after – but things are not quite like that.
No, the parents are not usually Al Pacinos. They are not ready to make you win a game on the basis of a single motivational speech, a congratulatory well done. At least mine was not. But what he had to teach appeared, in the same way, through countless facets of the day to day. In the small comments that showed so much concern with family and friends. In the unshakable sense of commitment and responsibility that, yes, he carried literally until the last minute. In the conversations the nights we had while we waited for the pizzas to arrive.
Because, of course, it was only natural that someone who lived in a train car, then in a two-story house, then in a tight little room in Ribeirão Preto, then in a tight little room in São Paulo, again in a two-story house, and again in a tight little room in Sao Paulo, that he could teach something in any gesture he made. Because, of course, what is taken from you, of parents and country, of home and stomach, gives you history.
But, as much as a loss paints everything with sad tones at first, in the same measure it raises the more normal things from the past to true treasures in my memory. Like when we used to road trip to the South, or when we spoke every single day while I was backpacking through Europe, when we heard that song 8 times in a row, your black coffee and journal in the morning, the many times I've heard "you have to shave" when my beard was barely one day bigger than yours.
I think cancer, for a disease that takes so much, can also give a lot. A little more white hair, maybe – if by that I mean stress or maturity I still do not know, but it seems like the two walk together after all. An appreciation of what it really means to be patient, and hopefully also what it really means to be a doctor.
More than anything, a different perception of the value of simply being together when possible. How to get to the end of the week is also a victory of considerable size, and how to wake up and face the following week is an even bigger one.
Because that's the way things are: dragons have a weakness, somewhere, always. Nothing truly creates or loses itself in this world; it only transforms and alternates between forms that are more or less useful to us. I think you, an engineer, would understand that too. It remains for us to try to be resourceful and adaptable enough to search for utility even in the most adverse presentations that life takes on.
We still have a lot to learn and teach with each other, Neno.
I hope we're alike far beyond just our big nose.
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