Looking beyond the spin of Big Pharma PR. But encouraging gossip. Come in and confide, you know you want to! “I’ll publish right or wrong. Fools are my theme, let satire be my song.”
Sunday, July 20, 2014
Poetry Corner - Cancer's a funny thing
J.B.S. Haldane retained his wit even while undergoing cancer treatments — he wrote this poem in a hospital in 1964:
I wish I had the voice of Homer To sing of rectal carcinoma, Which kills a lot more chaps, in fact, Than were bumped off when Troy was sacked.
Yet, thanks to modern surgeon’s skills, It can be killed before it kills Upon a scientific basis In nineteen out of twenty cases.
I noticed I was passing blood (Only a few drops, not a flood). So pausing on my homeward way From Tallahassee to Bombay I asked a doctor, now my friend, To peer into my hinder end, To prove or to disprove the rumour That I had a malignant tumour. They pumped in BaS04 Till I could really stand no more, And, when sufficient had been pressed in, They photographed my large intestine. In order to decide the issue They next scraped out some bits of tissue. (Before they did so, some good pal Had knocked me out with pentothal, Whose action is extremely quick, And does not leave me feeling sick.) The microscope returned the answer That I had certainly got cancer, So I was wheeled into the theatre Where holes were made to make me better. One set is in my perineum Where I can feel, but can’t yet see ‘em. Another made me like a kipper Or female prey of Jack the Ripper, Through this incision, I don’t doubt, The neoplasm was taken out, Along with colon, and lymph nodes Where cancer cells might find abodes. A third much smaller hole is meant To function as a ventral vent: So now I am like two-faced Janus The only* god who sees his anus.
*In India there are several more With extra faces, up to four, But both in Brahma and in Shiva I own myself an unbeliever.
I’ll swear, without the risk of perjury, It was a snappy bit of surgery. My rectum is a serious loss to me, But I’ve a very neat colostomy, And hope, as soon as I am able, To make it keep a fixed time-table. So do not wait for aches and pains To have a surgeon mend your drains; If he says “cancer” you’re a dunce Unless you have it out at once, For if you wait it’s sure to swell, And may have progeny as well. My final word, before I’m done, Is “Cancer can be rather fun.” Thanks to the nurses and Nye Bevan The NHS is quite like heaven Provided one confronts the tumour With a sufficient sense of humour. I know that cancer often kills, But so do cars and sleeping pills; And it can hurt one till one sweats, So can bad teeth and unpaid debts. A spot of laughter, I am sure, Often accelerates one’s cure; So let us patients do our bit To help the surgeons make us fit.
Haldane succumbed to his cancer in December 1964.
Hat tip: http://www.futilitycloset.com/2014/07/11/good-humor/