In Literature and Medicine class, we’ve been discussing the many employments of narrative in health care. This is the area of interest that brought me into this degree program. So despite this ten week class being crunched into five weeks and doing a tutorial for my thesis at the same time, resulting in this summer being the busiest portion of my program, all is well, because I’m working on what captivates me most.
I’m paying close attention to narratives of illness as they unfold all around us. I’d been following Leroy Sievers’ blog “My Cancer” on NPR for the two years it’s been running. He recently got very bad news about his cancer. Though his tumors initially shrunk after chemo, a recent follow-up scan showed new tumors in his spine, brain, and bones. He called into a second “town hall meeting” type episode of Talk of the Nation with Elizabeth Edwards, hosted by an uncharacteristically awkward Ted Koppel on Wednesday. You can listen to it here.
And this from the NBC Nightly News website – a 2007 interview with Tony Snow. He takes the interviewer with him to his chemo infusion. When I posted this earlier, I didn’t realize Tony Snow had just died. I’m spending the day studying the play Wit, a gut-wrenching account of fictional professor (of Donne’s metaphysical poetry) Vivienne Bearing’s chemo treatment and eventual death. Life, narrative. Reality, fiction. Narrative, life.
Depressing stuff for a blog entry, a lovely summer Saturday’s work? Perhaps. But as Elizabeth Edwards said when she told her children about her cancer, “how many of you are not going to die?” It’s all about what we do in the meantime.