An Inconvenient Truth, and a Call to Action
Why Wiffiti? Wi Not?

A Lion in the House, Tears in my Eyes: On Cancer, Courage, Honesty and Generosity

Alioninthehouse Leukemia. Children. Families. Doctors. Nurses. I just watched the second half of A Lion in the House. I don't think I have ever had tears in my eyes for as long a stretch as during the last two hours. I feel sadness, gratitude and awe at the inspiring stories that unfolded in this episode of the PBS series Independent Lens. Children with cancer, families who support them, medical care professionals who do what they can ... perhaps made all the more poignant due to our own recent experience with cancer.

My cousin's daughter was diagnosed with Leukemia many years ago, and I'm grateful that she is a survivor. I don't think I really understood what her family went through ... and, actually, I probably still don't, but believe I can better empathize now. A local friend's son was recently diagnosed with Leukemia ... I sent him an email alerting him to the show ... now I'm not so sure it was a good idea (only 2 of the 5 children profiled survived during the six year production).

One of the many things that struck me during the show was the courage, honesty and generosity of the people who were willing to lay their lives bare for the camera ... to share their stories with us, the good and the bad, the beauty and the ugliness of facing a challenge as imposing as childhood cancer. Although it was not easy to watch, I am grateful for their willingness to be open and vulnerable.

At the end of the show, it was noted that childhood cancer rates are increasing ... perhaps an example of yet another inconvenient truth that most people would rather avoid addressing head-on ... reminding me of some remarks I made in an earlier post about losing the war on cancer because we're unwilling to face the real causes, and make the tough choices that might enable us to win:

I'll finish off this update with a link to an article entitled "Cancer: It's a Growth Industry" (an interview of Dr. Samuel Epstein by David Ross, originally appearing in Z Magazine in October 2003), in which Dr. Epstein questions the priorities and highlights the environmental, economic and political factors in our "war on cancer" ... reminding me of questionable priorities in other "wars".

I think this country -- and the world -- could benefit from having more courageous, honest and generous lions in leadership roles.

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