Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Anger Trumps Fear

I have a new theory about fear: the only emotion that’s stronger than fear is anger. This theory came out of my struggle, not with cancer, but with cockroaches. The only thing on this entire planet that I’m afraid of is cockroaches. Snakes, spiders, bats, no problem. But I’d rather have chemotherapy all over again than let cockroaches crawl over me.

Recently, our car became infested with cockroaches. I almost crashed the car a few times when I saw them scurrying along the dashboard while I was driving. Then one day, I’d had enough. I saw one crawling along the dashboard and I just slammed my naked hand down (luckily, I missed, cuz... YUCK!). Anyway, the point is that normally, I’d shudder at the thought of actually TOUCHING a cockroach. But I was so fed up with seeing them in the car that I just got pissed off and slammed my hand down without even thinking about it.

Then it occurred to me that my anger made me forget about how scared and disgusted I was by cockroaches. And I thought maybe the same thing could be said about cancer. Maybe I need to get angry about cancer so I won’t be afraid of it.

I might be afraid of being shot, but if someone with a gun were threatening my children, I’d be angry enough to face the gun. I think the adrenaline rush that comes with anger is strong enough to overcome the flight response and turn it into a fight response.

I’m actually angry about a lot of things. I’m angry when people lie, cheat, and steal and get away with it -- from the plumber who cheated me to the politicians and corporations that deceive the public. I’m angry when people show no courtesy for the needs or rights of others -- from drivers who don’t use turn signals to pharmaceutical companies that guard monopolies on drugs that save lives, but only for those who can afford it. I’m plenty angry about plenty of things. Maybe this anger will keep me fighting.

Some people say disease is caused by suppressed anger. If that’s true, then it’s time to unleash all my anger and get it out of my system.

If cancer were a giant cockroach, I might just run toward it with a battle cry and slide-tackle it to the death.

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