He was interested in research (or at least feigned interest), but Li was considered an intellectual fugitive, unable to commit to any one question or plan.
~ Siddhartha Mukherjee, “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer”
I am listening to Dr. Mukherjee’s book right now and this phrase caught me. I love the idea of being an intellectual fugitive.
For the record, Li was the physician responsible for the first successful use of chemotherapy, he was fired by the NCI because they though his idea too aggressive.
One of the things that I love about anthropology is that it, out of the plethora of other intellectual disciplines, allows for more of this than any other.
Someone I knew called me a dabbler once, I think they meant it in something akin to this idea – but dabbler doesn’t sound as nice.
I think we need to have intellectually curious people, a cohort of intellectual fugitives, people who can see relationships beyond the one question or plan. It is arguably a part of that road map to discovery, and a necessary aspect of the path.
But that is merely a musing and not what and why I am here today.
This cancer shit is tough no matter what – there is so much fear that needs to be managed. It is actually surprising, a test of human resilience perhaps – makes me think I am a devout coward, because I frankly hate having to do this shit. I find that even keeping busy is not enough to bring peace of mind for a stretch of time longer than maybe 15 minutes.
Where am I right now…
- I am very close to three years of remission from my first cancer.
- I am newly into the diagnosis of stage 2B breast cancer, the edge of what is considered early detection. Yay right, but my heart gets heavy when I think about how my lead in to surgery was so close to being sure that it was stage 1A – and that following it jumped to 2B and that this is huge and makes my heart feel heavy and squeezed.
My cancers are distinct and unrelated. I write this for those of you that might be thinking this, it is not metastasis. A blessing – and how weird is it to call having two cancers a blessing.
I do know that I must have both chemo (regimen is still to be determined)and radiation (six weeks), with hormonal therapy for 5 to 10 years.
I just don’t really and fully know what that will look like yet.