Posted by: jeanne | December 19, 2008

more cancer art – the arrogance of doctors


jim thought i might could name it “the reign of condescension.”

i was thinking “crap i’ve heard come out of the mouths of doctors.”

one of them even patted me on the head as he said his piece.


unfortunately you can’t read what i’ve written. should have made the words bigger. as it is it felt like writing 50 times on the blackboard. (did any of us dare write that crooked when we were punished like that?)

pardon me while i crop and upload a detail.


for this one i got up on the bed and had jim take pictures of me squinting at the ceiling like i used to do as a child. maybe i’ll upload that one as well. 


 i used to squint because i was always nearsighted, but nobody noticed, not my mom, not my teachers. i squinted my face up like i was scowling at the world, whenever i was out in the sun, whenever i tried to look at the blackboard. i even voluntarily sat in the front of the class, well the second row, because i don’t just see fuzzy, nosir, i see clear. i just see fractured multiples of every object, superimposed on itself. i suppose this is called astigmatism, but nobody can confirm this for me, so i just figure it’s me.

so i wanted to show a very small me crouching at the bottom of a long canvas, a long white space, aseptic, barren, cold, as bland and blank as possible. and then i wanted bars, imprisonment, but that was too obvious. and what’s my point about cancer being a prison? so never mind the bars. but maybe if i did them in blood. oh stop.

i wanted a frightened naked woman with scars and ugliness, haglike qualities i cultivate now that i’m over 50.

i wanted her alone and small and miserable (dorothy the small and meek).

i wanted her battered down, assaulted, by all the useless crap they tell you when you’re trying to navigate the maze of your own disease.

i should have made the words bigger.

there’s me, that’s my scar, my pendulous breast, my sticky-out belly. i love me.

i felt a lot of confusion when i was dealing with doctors, at the beginning of my progression with cancer. i tried to paint this once before, and it never got off the sketch paper. but i’ve been thinking about it for 5 or 6 years now, how long am i alive past the onset of this?

at the beginning, i was trying to listen to the little voice. since i gave myself cancer by asking god to take me home now, after 9/11 and our wild west response. since i gave myself cancer, i knew that this was not your normal case of cancer, that is, well, what am i trying to say here?

i had been trying to acknowledge the little voice since i started getting my wishes. i would get what i wished for, 6 months after i’d wished it, several months after i’d changed my mind and wished for something different, which then went into the pipeline.

the little voice always advised me well, but i never paid it any heed, and forgot it had even spoken while i went on my headstrong way.

the only notice i paid the little voice was when i’d pause in my deliberations for a moment while thinking a different thought, and then shake my head and go, “nah.”

the “nah” was the only memory i would retain of the conversation.

and that’s why i was trying to listen to the little voice.

this is when i was deciding what to do about the tumor. get it out was the first response, of course. but then what?

so i consulted the little voice whenever i had a decision to make. i went on my gut feeling. if a doctor gave me the creeps and treated my concerns in an offhand manor, my little voice started throwing him insults and generally misbehaving.

the little voice yelled and screamed when this one guy tried to simplly slot me into his chemo shedule without considering which chemo or what dose. it was a one-size-fits-all operation, and i’d done enough research to know that there were lots of options and he was being lazy. or that’s what my little voice was telling me.

previously i’d have sat there and let him shovel shit around my feet and stamp it down, thinking he must know what’s best. but my little voice wouldn’t let me.

what i wanted was for someone to tell me what to do. i wanted to believe in the platitudes and admonitions, i wanted to think someone had my fate in their hands and would treat me gently.

but that’s not what modern medicine is all about. if i trust in what the doctor tells me, i become fodder for some drug company experiment. it’s not in my best interests. it’s in the cancer industry’s best interests. it’s in the doctor’s best interests. they can help me, but look around – they help me to die of cancer.

so there i was, knowing this, knowing that i had to stand up for myself.  against the powerful, authoritarian medical industry. being assaulted by the other vested interests, the wheels of whatever.

i feel like i’m a cow being herded thru the chute onto the slaughter floor. i’ve got account numbers at a dozen hospitals and doctors’ offices. i help the system go around. i am worth hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to all these institutions just to check me out to make sure i don’t have a recurrence (using diagnostic techniques that promote the growth of what ails me).

so i’m trying to convey some of the confusion, revulsion and panic i felt dealing with being a cog in a wheel that would end up with my death.

you’re not supposed to cooperate with your own punishment.

i know your parents tell you that you need to. stand there and let me spank you. i’ll make you sorry you were ever born. stop wiggling, you’re going to take this like a man.

but what kind of true rebel stands there and takes their lumps? defiant to the end. attitude. never give up, never surrender.





  1. Never surrender.

    I love it once again.

    Have a merry chirstmas with everyone you love the best.

    Love Renee xoxoxo

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