The Acadian Cure

I’ve been exploring an idea for some time now about the nature of the word “cure.”  When you have cancer (even better: brain cancer!  Whoopty-doo!) you’re hyper-aware of the fact that there is no cure.  There is no one thing that wham-bang-there-you-go-that’ll-be-fifty-bucks wipes it out of your body like an infection that was there and now just isn’t there anymore.

There are things that are close, and there are things that are getting closer (which is nice).  For some types of cancer, there are already pretty reliable ways to eliminate them for good (which is great).  That said, one thing you’ll never hear any oncologist say is something like this:

“Oh your type of cancer?  We TOTALLY have a cure for that!”

At least, I’ve never heard any oncologist say that.

Then again, I have glioblastoma  multiforme, the Penultimate Brain Cancer (some might even say The Penultimate Cancer.  {There I go playing the “my cancer is better than your cancer” card again.  It’s something we GBM’ers find to be a nice distraction from the gun inside our head pointing at… the rest of our head.})

Despite being nested inside two parentheticals, that word: “distraction,” gets right to the heart of this idea I have about cures.

Is a cure only something that completely rids a person of a malady or disease?  And if it’s anything less than that, does it make it not a cure?

When we talk about cures—particularly when we talk about cures for cancer—we always frame it in terms of a “magic bullet” that does away with “an enemy” once and for all.

But maybe that isn’t a very helpful way to think about it.

We’re all going to die, after all.  Every goddamn one of us.  (Or, if your business is in god-believing, every godloved one of us.)  So a cure for one type of sickness or death could just as easily be seen as A Ticket To Allowing Something Else To Kill You.  As in: “Hooray!  I’m cured of cancer!  Here’s my ticket to that speeding bus 13 years down the road that just sped up a little bit more in hot anticipation of another victim!”

But what sense would it make to look at life like that?  I say not much at all.  (Although it is a funny thought for a moment or two.)

If you’re still following me with this post, and this idea (look, I said it was an idea, not a perfectly crystallized theory), then see if you agree with this:

If a cure isn’t just something that allows us to die another way, maybe what it is is something that lets us live another day.

In that sentence (and herein lies the root of my idea) the word “day” really stands for any amount of time at all.  Any significant amount of time at all.  Because maybe what a cure really is (and this is what it feels like to me) is something that just lets us live, just lets us feel alive, and not just sick, for any valuable little chunk of time at all.

Following that logic, I can say this without any hesitation and with absolute certainty that I’m not only right but not even exaggerating:

Yesterday, I was cured of cancer by a hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain.

cadillac mountain

It turns out that Acadia National Park in Maine is so astonishingly fucking beautiful that it cured my cancer for a whole day.  Yesterday, I didn’t have brain cancer.  What I did have was a 360 degree view of Mount Desert Island and Frenchman Bay, an uncannily intelligent and loyal dog named Dutch, and an unlimited supply of fresh blueberries, which remind me of my Pop Pop, are a great anti-cancer food, and grow pretty much all over the fucking place around here.  So yesterday was a good day.  I was totally cured of cancer yesterday.

As ready as I am to submit myself as test subject in a clinical trial to prove that the National Parks of the United States of America do in fact cure brain cancer, I have found that there are some other promising potential cures out there— many of them within a short trip of no matter where you live.  Laughter is one of them.  Hope is another.  Those two things regularly make me feel like I felt yesterday: cured.  Which is to say, alive.  Which is to say, not sick.  I wasn’t ignoring that I still had cancer (because I still did have cancer), the thing was that yesterday it just didn’t matter.  I was alive.

Me & Dutch on Cadillac Mountain

So I hope to visit all the National Parks, because if they’re all this beautiful (I’ve seen a couple others, and they were), then they probably all cure cancer.

And even if I never get to visit them all, that little thought nugget alone—that hope that I’ll get to see them all— is a tiny cure in itself.  It’s something positive to occupy my brain.  Something to look forward to.  A reminder that I’m still alive, and that I am still looking forward.

And that’s something.

That’s a kind of cure now, isn’t it?

– CP

PS:  To give you some idea of how astonishingly beautiful Acadia National Park is, as I reached the top of Cadillac Mountain I actually began to weep.  If you’ve been following this blog you know that I’m no stranger to happy tears, but this place really is something else.  Go, if you can.

And if you do, do yourself a favor and eat the blueberries.


(I just said “do do” ; )

9 thoughts on “The Acadian Cure

  1. So beautifully put chad. I do think you were cured for a day and I hope you have many more days just like yesterday. Wishing the best for you always.

  2. Time may be spinning past us, faster than you think, but fortunately, you got a chance to look and learn and enjoy at Acadia National Park yesterday. Glad you took it! Glad you had a day’s reprieve from it all! A Park for the Cure. Amen. Visit them all!
    I don’t have to ask you what you were doing at age 37-1/2. The answer is, I know, a lot. A lot of living. Some people don’t ever stop and smell the roses! Glad you do! We’re all lucky that you do. We get to read how much you appreciate life, with all its ups and downs.
    Love you a million!!

  3. I love the way your hair and Dutch’s ears are whipping in the wind. You are amazing. That is all any of us can hope to be.

  4. Wow. This post is astonishing. I love it. It puts a whole new spin for me on what it means to be cured of things in general, even mental illness. I’ve struggled with depression off and on throughout my life and you are right – the days where I feel “cured” are the days I feel most alive. Recently it was a hike in the mountains close to where I live. For that day… I was most definitely cured.
    Thank you so much for writing this. I needed the perception shift.

  5. Your blog is the one that gives me the words to share with others about what I am living through. Recently I was asked what goals I could set to keep myself forward-focused rather than hole-in-the-head focused, and I thought: I want to hike again. THAT would make me happy. And then I read your blog, and there you are, finding just that cure. It made me happy to know this is possible! Please keep writing; your realism tempered with optimism is so affirming.

  6. A longtime friend-Dianne died from her brain cancer last week. Friends attended the funeral, Dianne wrote/arranged the entire church service. It was very touching, very sad. My friend Pam and I were arm and arm as she said to me ,” well, we all know we are all going too “. It was a relief to consider life with that in mind. I just let that thought be there and was able to enjoy the beauty of that day. No fighting thoughts of death, it is what it is. I said goodbye while I listening to the bagpiper play Amazing Grace amist the splendor of the bright sun and the warm colors of autumn leaves…..BEAUTIFUL. Dianne did not have brain cancer that day

  7. Chad – beautifully written. Having had cancer myself (although yours is of course better than mine) I can surely relate. Many of my friends who are sick are still hoping for a cure – your cure is perhaps the best found to date. All the best to you my friend. I look forward to reading your next blog.

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