Cancer survivors won’t shut up about beating cancer, so when my doctor diagnoses me, I fear I may eventually become one of them. That’s why instead of fighting cancer, I will convince it that we can peacefully coexist. I tell my doctor I need time to think about his proposed “aggressive treatment” that will leave me nauseous and bald. I exit his office sure I will never return.
When I get back to my apartment, I prepare a statement to my cancer which I will deliver into my bathroom mirror. I think I should look at something while orating, and it seems apt to gaze at myself, where the cancer resides. My speech is short and honest, reasonable too. I say: “Cancer, through the years your name has become synonymous with ‘enemy.’ People invoke terms of war and craft plans of attack to demonstrate just how seriously they take you. I imagine that cancer survivors, who go on talk shows or star in commercials, piss you off because they’ve bested you. Still, I’m positive—no pun intended—that you and I can peacefully coexist. After all, it’s in your best interest, because if I die, you die. Thank you for your time.”
The next morning I’m reminded of how stupid my plan was. I’m in the bathroom when I notice a strange pattern of new moles on my left forearm, like Braille:
I forgot that cancer is kamikaze. It won’t listen to reason. I can’t appeal to its sense of self-preservation, because it doesn’t have one.
So I develop a plan that will test cancer before it demolishes my body and will. The only way to defeat cancer is to prevent it from being the cause of death. I gather all the materials I need: a roll of duct tape, a pair of handcuffs, and a multi-colored assortment of pills from my medicine cabinet. In my kitchen I down twenty or forty pills, then quickly swallow the key to the handcuffs. I tear off a strip of duct tape and place it over my mouth. I fasten my hands behind my back in the handcuffs. If cancer wants to win, it can extract the key from my stomach, unlock my hands, and pull off the duct tape so I can vomit, prolonging my existence.
I lie down on the cool linoleum, already feeling the effects. I think: the ball’s in your court, cancer. Problem is the ball’s actually a grenade and I just pulled the motherfucking pin.