Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fuck Cancer.

(Edit:  Please forgive me for speculating as to the cause of death before any official announcement.  It's none of my damned business anyways.)

Steve Jobs, rest in peace, and thank you for everything.

At some point, I'll probably opine about why I'm a big Apple fan.  I switched from PC around 5 years ago (after years of being the kind of nerd who'd do six months of research to spec out a new custom-built system) and cannot imagine going back.  My iPhone is still the best purchase I've ever made.  I don't have the sticker in the back window of my car, but I'm definitely a Mac guy.  I probably don't spend much of my waking day more than ten feet from an Apple product, even if you don't count the phone in my pocket.

No matter where you stand on Apple, I think you have to respect the man who was the visionary and guiding force at the helm.  If you're an Apple fan, then that's an easy case to make.  But even if you hate the Cult and everybody in it, you'd probably be hard-pressed to argue that Apple didn't raise the bar to inspire the companies and gizmos that you may dig.  Competition is great for end-users, and Apple, thanks in no small part to Steve, was a hell of a competitor.

But right now, I want to talk about cancer.  Specifically:  fuck cancer.

Cancer killed my father.  It tried to kill my mother.  It killed both my grandmothers.  It is going to try and kill me, and it's the odds-on favourite in that fight.

Now, Twitter is alight with the collective grief of the people from whom cancer has taken somebody else that we loved, respected, and admired.  Some express that grief with our battlecry:  fuck cancer.

One of my friends took issue with the sentiment, pointing out that cancer was still as horrible yesterday when it was just killing fathers and mothers and aunts and cousins and children and friends and dogs but nobody famous.  If I understand his objection, it's that to beat cancer, people need to care all the time, and not just when cancer kills somebody prominent enough to trend.

Now, to be clear, this is somebody I consider a good friend.  He is somebody I admire, and whose company, conversation, and unfailingly excellent recommendations for music and literature I always enjoy.  He's good people, and he's much, much smarter than I am, so I usually find myself agreeing with him.  But I saw his objection and wanted to offer a different perspective.

There is no bad reason to say "fuck cancer".  Not one.

I'm sure there are some people saying "fuck cancer" just because it got Steve, and maybe they've never been touched more closely than a celebrity death.  And to me, that's okay.  I'm truly grateful there are people who haven't lost somebody close to cancer.  Of course, I'm sure there are many more saying "fuck cancer" because it got somebody they loved and now it got Steve too. 

Maybe cancer is worse today than it was yesterday because it got Steve, and a bunch of other people whose names we'll never know because they didn't invent the iPod.  Yesterday it was still worse than the day before, and tomorrow it will be worse than today, because it's going to keep killing.

The good news, for me, is that I know firsthand that there are a bunch of very smart, very talented people doing wonderful, important work that is easing pain and saving lives.  I have every confidence that one day, hopefully in my lifetime (and I'm kind of counting on that one, so chop chop folks), cancer isn't going to know what hit it.

But until then, I'm going to say fuck cancer every time I think about it.  Fuck cancer for taking Jack Layton.  Fuck cancer for taking Steve Jobs.  Fuck cancer for taking my dad.

I really hope that if you're reading this, you can't relate to the way I feel right now just typing these sentences.  If you do, I know you're probably saying "fuck cancer" with me all the time.  If you don't, but you still wanna say "fuck cancer" just because you're reading the Steve Jobs tributes and know we lost a good one, I'm down with that.

We need all the voices we can get, at any time, for any reason.

I know that life is a bit more fun because of Apple, and I'll grieve in my own small way over the loss of a guy who helped make that happen.

And then I'll stop being maudlin and celebrate, again in my own small way, a man who unquestionably made the most of his time here, and who proved that we can leave the world more interesting than we found it.  That's pretty wonderful.  Perhaps most importantly, it's hopeful.

Thank you, Steve.  Rest easy.

And fuck cancer.

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