(Kris Kristofferson reference)
I am saddened, amused, and mildly irritated when I hear someone ask, or read someone ask, “Why me?”.
I cannot help but be saddened by the lamentation. I cannot help but be amused by the clear philosophical and/or religious paradox within the question. And I cannot help but be irritated by the implicit arrogant, elitist, and selfish notion that others might deserve it, but not ME.
I am not without empathy for those who ask the question. Most of us grow up with little knowledge of what might cause cancer beyond the old tobacco boogeyman. If we have not smoked, we wonder what on earth we might have done to deserve such a disease.
But that does not carry so much weight with me these days. Perhaps I have been inside of the cancer world for long enough that I am now jaded by such innocence, but I really believe it is something else, that my empathy is broadsided accurately by amusement and irritation, such that the Ship of Empathy sinks rather quickly.
From my vantage point as an un-knower regarding some sort of supreme entity (or entities as the case may be), I think, well, if you do not believe in a higher power, then you must understand, from a rational perspective, that this can happen to anyone and that you were not picked out because of some problem with your morality or the socks you wear. I would not go so far as to call it a random event, of course, since there is an abundance of scientific evidence pointing to genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors behind cancer occurance, but still, it is not like you are being specifically selected by a benign universe.
And, if you ARE a believer in ANY higher order, then how can you challenge the choices of your Creator? I find this ludicrous. Speaking to Christianity, for example, do you not know the story of Job? Have you not read enough of your bibles to figure out that sometimes the good guy gets it, for reasons known only by your god and the people who wrote your books? Have you not noticed what happened to His own SON???
To me, such a question among true believers belies the notion that one is a true believer. I will leave that at that.
But you can tell, I am sure, that I am irritated :). Which brings me to the last of my notions about this question: who would you RATHER have the disease? Would you pick another member of your family? A parent? A sibling? A spouse or significant other? A child? Would you instead pick a neighbor? A coworker? A stranger?
What a reality show that would make: “Our contestants all have cancers, and they will decide from among the millions of viewers we have, WHO WILL GET MY CANCER! Next week, Sally will give her lung cancer either to Jane, a housewife and mother of three in Ohio, or to John, a graduate student at MIT working, ironically enough, on cures for cancer, but who has no signficant other!
It is unfathomable to me that one would ask the question. It really is.
Why NOT me????
The important thing, the real question, is “WHAT NOW?”.
Get to work on that one right away with a positive attitude and an aggressive stance, and maybe your family is not stuck with “Why us?