The Side Effects of My Cancer Dog Me

Charles McCain – On Left, May 2009; On Right, February 2010

I usually write my blog posts one to three weeks in advance. So I’m actually writing this one on 23 July. I have a cold and I feel like hell. It’s also over one hundred degrees in Washington, DC which is where I live. Ever since I went through chemo my immune system has never come back to its pre-cancer functioning. I had a cancer they can actually cure (B cell lymphoma) and in my case they did; so complaining about how it continues to affect me 14 months after my chemo ended makes me feel like an ungrateful jerk. But no matter what I do, no matter how many times I wash my hands, I still get sick all the time. Bronchitis put me out for a month. Three weeks later it was an ear infection. That got cured to be followed not four days later by this hacking cold that exhausts me. I’m trying to put my life back together and start new projects – especially a new novel. Every time I get in the swing of things, I get sick. I hate it. I hate cancer. I hate the word. I hate it that people have it and are dying from it. Cancer is a scourge from the devil, I swear.

What if we had taken the almost TWO TRILLION DOLLARS we have spent in Iraq and invested it in cancer research instead of going to war with a country which was a zero threat to us? We would be on the verge of a cure for many cancers by now.

Think of it like this: we not only have lost thousands of our brave soldiers killed in action but many, many thousands more have been wounded in action, some of them so badly they will never live independently again.

Add to that what in business we would call ‘opportunity costs,’ that is, alternate projects we could have spent the two trillion on but did not because we spent it on the war in Iraq. Only in this case the ‘opportunity costs’ are human lives. What if we had spent two trillion funding cancer research around the United States as well as funding training programs to produce all the lab techs, physicians, nurses et al we would need? Would that have made us a stronger country? A smarter country? A more wealthy country? Yes. (US Government spends about 25 billion a year on cancer research. That’s it.)

Let me close by saying I took a nap after the first draft of this post because I was so damn tired. Several hours later I returned to my study and got settled in my writing chair with a diet Coke, bottle of Gatorade, bottle of club soda, with back pillow and neck pillows in just the right place. Then I felt the air conditioning blowing on my ears which hurts because of this damn cold so I undid all those things, got up, moved the chair then knocked over the diet Coke which spilled everywhere.

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website:

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