Snapshots of a… Crazy Kinda Life

The Misadventures of Messie Jessie

Cancer: It’s no laughing matter December 5, 2010

Public Announcement: I fear cancer.

There. I’ve said it. It’s a fact, and there’s no going back now. I’ve actually never really told anyone about this fear until now. I have my reasons.

You see, when I was a kid my father’s mother passed away from cancer. After she was gone my dad said to me, “That woman used to worry and worry about getting cancer. All the time she talked about how she was afraid she was going to get cancer. And you see what that did? She worried herself so much about cancer that she ended up getting cancer.”

As an impressionable child, this taught me an important lesson: If you worry about getting cancer, you WILL get cancer.

Now, as a reasonable and logical adult, I know very well that the likelihood of developing cancer is more closely related to genetic dispositions and environmental conditions, but -blame it on superstition- to this day I refuse to let myself worry about cancer for fear that I’ll develop cancer as a direct result of my worrying about cancer.

In fact, it makes me even a little nervous writing this post, because, well, I’m thinking about cancer this entire time.

Problem is, I do worry about cancer. A lot. Statistics show that in the U.S. 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will develop cancer in their lifetime. I don’t like those odds.

Whenever I start to worry about cancer, I chase it out of my mind as fast as I can, by any means possible. So let’s say for instance I see a commercial about cancer– you know, the ones that spew their fear mongering about your chances of getting cancer of the retina or something. Really, who has ever gotten retinal cancer? No one, that’s who. But these folks start making you believe that that 1 in 285,074,001 is going to be you unless you take action. Now.

At this point my eyes are fixed to the TV, and I can’t look away. My mind starts running. “Yeah, retinal cancer is scary business, man. I don’t want to mess around with that. I need to make an appointment with my eye doctor, like, tomorrow or else by this time next week… BAM. I’ll have cancer of the retina.”

Once I realize that I’m sitting around worrying about cancer I have to find a way to stop myself:

“Ok. Don’t worry about getting cancer. If you worry about it, you will get it. Don’t think about it. Don’t think about it.”

Then I distract myself, usually with the thoughts of something like kittens. Or serial killers.

So the other day, while peacefully surfing the net with my laptop resting on my lap, not thinking about cancer in the slightest, I happened to read THIS (<– click there) article on Yahoo about the unspoken dangers of nonthermal radio frequency radiation (RF) from our increasing usage of everyday electronic gadgets.

I started getting a little freaked out. I pulled my laptop a little closer to my chest, hands clenched on its sides, as I read on.

The article detailed how cell phones, cordless phones, wireless routers and laptops continually bombard massive amounts of RF into our poor, little, unsuspecting bodies. You can’t get away from it. RF damages your DNA, which causes the DNA to change, which causes cancer.

To quote the author: “When you hold your laptop on your lap, what you’re essentially doing is radiating your pelvis.”

Here is a crude sketch of what immediately went through my mind at that exact moment:

The article went on to say that as a safety precaution, it’s best to always keep your laptop outside a six-inch buffer zone from your body at all times. So, for example, if you absolutely must rest your laptop on your lap, it suggests you put a six-inch thick pillow between your lap and the laptop. Or else turn off your connection to the Internet.

But really, who carries a six-inch pillow around with them at all times? And more unlikely, who is going to turn off their wireless? Let’s be realistic here.

A few days passed, and normally I would have forgotten all about the cancer thing. But not this time. I’ve found myself extremely aware of every electronic gadget around me. I’ve put my cell phone on speaker when talking to people. I’ve been looking around my friends’ homes for the location of their wireless routers, and sitting as far as possible from the evil cancer machines, while still maintaining some semblance of social norms.

I’ve thought about this past summer when I was at a rooftop party for the Fourth of July and there was a cell phone tower right next to the homeowner’s deck. It made me a little nervous at the time, but I tried not to think about it too much. I distinctly remember having a conversation with a fellow party-goer about it, and he said to me, “Yeah, we’re cooking right now.” At the time I laughed.

Now I’m wondering if that will be the exact cause of my earlobe cancer.

This incessant preoccupation over interacting with electronic devices has started to impede on my everyday functioning. I think about every casual touch. For instance, what do you do when you want to use your phone or respond to an email? You are touching the phone and laptop with your hands. Am I going to develop hand cancer now too?

How would I even know if I had cancer of the hand?

Luckily for me, a few days prior to reading this article I did something very, very smart.

I bought cancer insurance. Yep, that’s right. Cancer insurance.

It was open enrollment time at my place of employment and the company Aflac representative was there to help anyone who was interested sign up for supplemental insurance.

When I walked into her office, the first thing I said was, “I’m not actually interested in getting Aflac, but since I’m the boss around here I figured I should know what it’s about. So, what can you tell me about Aflac?”

The rep starts off by giving me a quick overview of the purpose of Aflac and how it works. Aflac pays you to get sick or injured. Different illnesses have different pay rates. If I broke my arm, I’d get $250. Dismembered pinky toe? $2,000. If a bee happens to fly into my ear and I have to have it surgically removed, I get $90. I’m not making that up, folks. Bee lodged in ear = $90.

Then the rep gives me the rundown of the various plans they offer. She talks about Short-Term Disability, Accidental Insurance and Hospital Stay insurance. But the one that truly catches my attention: Cancer Insurance.

Ok, so it’s not really called “Cancer Insurance.” It’s actually called “Maximum Difference.” I guess people are less likely to buy something that has “cancer” in the title. But in truth, its chief purpose is to cover you in the chance that you are diagnosed with cancer.

Not me, though. Right away, I referred to it as Cancer Insurance.

As soon as the rep told me about Cancer Insurance, I was sold. All previous comments about “not being interested” were forgotten.

My exact words were, “tell me no more. I want that Cancer Insurance. Where do I sign?”

You may be asking yourself, why would someone who fears cancer and refuses to think about cancer want an insurance that covers cancer?

I’ll tell you why:

If I buy insurance to cover me in case I get cancer, I’ll never get cancer.

That’s perfect logic. And so far, it seems to be working.

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One Response to “Cancer: It’s no laughing matter”

  1. […] I never put a timeframe on this respite or anything; I just sorta waited for the moment to be right. A lot of moments passed before the right one came along. Then one winter morning I was sitting on my kitchen floor eating cereal, thinking about cancer and how much cancer freaked me out. Then some totally inappropriate, but also hilarious, mental images about cancer started popping in my head and I thought, “You know what? I’m gonna write about cancer. And I’m gonna make fun of cancer too.” Cancer: It’s No Laughing Matter […]


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