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Lose More Slowly

I guess that cancer changes our perspectives forever. It becomes the prism through which we view everything else.

I was reading an article in this month's Vanity Fair about film noir. They quote a couple of lines from the film Out of the Past from 1947. Jane Greer asks Robert Mitchum, "Is there any way to win?"

Mitchum's reply: "There's a way to lose more slowly."

Before, I probably would have thought that was just a cool, tough-guy line, cynical and world-weary. When I read it this time, I thought it perfectly summed up the way most of us approach cancer.

How many times have we heard something like that from our doctors or nurses? "We can't cure you, but we'll try to give you as much time as we can." The thought may be the same, but somehow it sounds better coming from Robert Mitchum. But that's really what we're all trying to do: Lose more slowly. Hold off the Beast for as long as we can.

But I have to admit that I don't much like the word "lose." You hear it a lot. I say it. Someone "lost" their battle with cancer. It makes it sound like they failed somehow. They weren't up to the fight. I don't buy it. Maybe I just don't want to ever think that the cancer "won." That certainly doesn't seem right.

So I guess Mitchum was right. Whatever words we use, however we want to say it, we all want this process to go more slowly. Me, I intend to make the cancer work to try to get me. I want to make it as hard as possible. I don't intend to go easily.

But one last thing. I do wish that I looked as good in a hat as all those guys in the noir films.