|© Emma Keller|
The article in question has since been retracted by The Guardian "pending investigation" — but you can find it here! (Oh, the wonders of the internet, where nothing ever really disappears…)
Emma's article (again, you can find it here) has the breast cancer community (and social media at large) abuzz. Why?
|© Lisa Bonchek Adams|
Of course there's more to it. As Emma herself has said on her own blog, "My goal all along has been to put this experience behind me as fast as possible before carrying on with life as normal." More commonalities. Who among us who has heard "You. Have. Cancer." hasn't tried to do that?
We all have. We all try. Until we can't. Lisa tried too, until she couldn't. When Stage IV rapped on her door, she chose to write about it. With grace.
But grace is woefully missing from Emma's article.
Luckily for Emma, recurrence has steered clear of her door. But we all know there are no guarantees when it comes to The Big C. It sneaks up on you, just like a Fort Lee road closure. We keep our doors locked, but cancer has a hide-a-key. It comes home to roost whenever it wants to.
Getting back to the issue at hand: Emma's story questions the value and ethics of "tweeting a terminal illness" the way Lisa is doing. Rather than rehash every detail, here's a link to Maryn McKenna's wonderful piece on wired.com. It recaps the controversy beautifully.
So many of my blogging friends have written posts about the brouhaha (find my pals listed under my "Renn's Favorite Big C Bloggers" sidebar) that I haven't read them all, but I have to give a shout-out to Marie over at Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer, because it was Maria's blog post yesterday that gave me my AH HA! moment today...
It's a blunder and a blessing that Emma's denial of her own fear of recurrence/death has played out in such a public forum — the entire world — and by her own hand, no less! How's that for irony?
But at some point, I hope Emma Keller's denial mechanism will crack and crumble. And if she is self-aware enough, she will learn to face her fear and work through it rather than subconsciously lash out at a wonderful woman with incurable cancer. It will take an awful lot of chutzpah on Emma's part to write about that. But I truly hope she does. Even if it's years down the road.
So I will take the high road here and hope at some point Emma Keller can reflect on her own "overwhelming experience" and see it for what it truly is: the spark that helped changed the way the world views metastatic cancer. Because without Emma's flub (and her husband Bill's failed attempt to save her in the New York Times, no less! Read that ditty here), fewer people in this world would know about Lisa Bonchek Adams, and the beauty of her life (which she is still living!), and the truth of her story. And that is the upshot here. Everybody's talking about it. And that sheds much-needed light on metastatic cancer.
Now back to Lisa. She is, tweet by tweet, blog post by blog post, helping to erode that layer of denial that stands between each one of us and our fear of cancer and death.
None of us get out off this ferris wheel of life alive. So enough with the magical thinking. Enough with the inept logic that anyone going through cancer should just "get on with it." And that is the magic of Lisa. She forces those of us brave enough to read her work to face our own fears, to push aside our denial, to freely embrace her path and provide her empathy and offer her support as a human being. Lisa deserves that. We all deserve that.
So I'm going to forgive Emma Keller, and her husband, too. For they know not what they do. (Or did.) They unwittingly cracked open the cancer convo and allowed Lisa to shine for all to see. That is a beautiful thing. And for that I am thankful.
Now if only Emma and Bill could take the high road and apologize to Lisa...
If you are on Twitter, you can show your support by using the hash tag #IStandWithLisa.
UPDATE: Lisa Bonchek Adams passed away in March 2015. My post about her is here.