Join 3,557 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


My Father, Always Fond of a Long Shot, Chose to Have His Cancerous Tounge Removed
January 14, 2012 12:09 PM   Subscribe

Diagnosed with cancer, my father decided to have his tongue removed. It’s an extreme treatment, but he’s always known how to make things work out.
posted by Blasdelb (20 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
A deeply inspiring article. Wonder if there is truth to the saying "What doesn't kill us makes us stronger."

I do hope there is a follow up on how his father fares through surgery. I noticed in the comments that someone offered to connect him with a cancer of the tongue survivor who didn't have this radical surgery.

Thank you for this gem and please alert us to any further news.
posted by smudgedlens at 12:23 PM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is exactly how I like to make decisions, when there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:24 PM on January 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


More about the author
posted by Blasdelb at 12:27 PM on January 14, 2012


It lists the writer as a film-maker and fiction writer. Is this fiction?
posted by PJLandis at 12:27 PM on January 14, 2012


Etgar Keret's fiction is pretty distinct, I'm pretty sure that this story and the relationship between him and his father are not part of it.

"My father said to me once, “In half of your stories the father character dies and in the other half he is just plain stupid, but in all of them I feel that you love me.” I think many stories say something that is more complex, ambiguous, and contradictory than just a clear, if coded, message." From an interview with Ira Glass
posted by Blasdelb at 12:34 PM on January 14, 2012


I'm not surprised that a man who survived living in a hole for 600 days would be willing to take a gamble on the removal of his tongue and larynx.

The will to survive, even in such harrowing circumstances, astounds me. I don't think I'd last a week in a hole.
posted by sunshinesky at 12:39 PM on January 14, 2012


Anyone who hasn't clicked yet, it's a very short article and very, very worth reading. Go!

I've loved Keret's stories on This American Life, and his interview with Eleanor Wachtel on the CBC a few weeks ago was pretty damn great, too.
posted by maudlin at 1:28 PM on January 14, 2012


“I love life,” my dad gave her his obstinate smile. “If the quality is good, then great. If not, then not. I’m not picky.”

Yeah!
posted by CCBC at 1:29 PM on January 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


A touching story and I'm relieved reading it, because for a moment reading the title I thought the father in the story was gambling on replacing his tongue with one of these parasites that insert themselves into fish mouths as a replacement tongue...
posted by MartinWisse at 2:16 PM on January 14, 2012


Beautiful, thank you.
posted by thinkpiece at 5:15 PM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


MartinWisse, I'm glad I wasn't the only one. Nightmare fuel.
posted by Myca at 12:21 AM on January 15, 2012


That's one way to lick cancer.
posted by fairmettle at 4:04 AM on January 15, 2012


Blaisdelb, there is no truth to that saying, and as a newly widowed cancerwife, I think it's actually pretty fucking heartless to say it. Never, ever, say that to someone who has lost someone or has been diagnosed. Not raging at you, but at the stupid ass saying. Works fine in business, but not so much in the whole "But he was only 40!" shite.
posted by piearray at 5:34 AM on January 15, 2012


piearray,

I'm really sorry for your loss, cancer sucks in so many profound ways...

I only wanted to post this because it seemed like it was true for Etgar Keret's father in a way that was unique and touching for me. I certainly didn't want to imply that it was in any way universally true. I agree that it sucks how in most dialogue about cancer it happens in victorious, or heroic, or brave struggle, or in this case selfless acceptance and plucky courage narratives that can't possibly apply to most, much less all, experiences with it.

I came across this story when it was published last month and really wasn't sure how I felt about posting it. Etgar Keret's narrative for his father's experience with this second cancer really does almost trivialize the profoundly narrative destroying power of cancer by almost implying that, since his father's cancer fit into this neat box, everyone's should.
posted by Blasdelb at 11:33 AM on January 15, 2012


I agree that it sucks how in most dialogue about cancer it happens in victorious, or heroic, or brave struggle, or in this case selfless acceptance and plucky courage narratives that can't possibly apply to most, much less all, experiences with it.

The book Because Cowards Get Cancer Too is a fantastic memoir by British journalist John Diamond, who clearly doesn't identify with the plucky, herioc cancer patient. He lost his tongue to cancer before ultimately succumbing to it, a particularly cruel irony considering he not only worked in broadcasting but was married at the time to famous chef and voluptuous beauty Nigella Lawson.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 12:23 PM on January 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


piearray: did you mean to attack the saying in the comment by smudgedlens rather than the FPP by blastdelb? Because I agree that saying is really really stupid.
posted by CCBC at 2:25 PM on January 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


@CCBC: I did, thank you for pointing that out to me. Apologies to blastdelb...
posted by piearray at 3:15 PM on January 15, 2012


Wonder if there is truth to the saying "What doesn't kill us makes us stronger."

Christopher Hitchens wrote a piece on that shortly before he died: Trial of the Will
posted by homunculus at 4:27 PM on January 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Whoops, weird crossed wires, no worries.

Welcome to MetaFilter btw!
posted by Blasdelb at 9:33 PM on January 15, 2012


Sorry piearray and sorry for your loss. This comment wasn't meant to offend at all. I would never say it to someone who is dying or to their family because it wouldnt apply to them. That would be stupid!

I personally do not think it is a stupid or offensive platitude overall. It might be helpful in regard to early stages of cancer and opting for hopeful treatments. I have looked after many people in palliative care and cancer treatment and have heard many of them say those same words. Some used it as a mantra for some to get through the tortuous treatment. Everyone has their own way of enduring hardship.

I said this in this context, to try and explain to myself the courage of this man to opt for the most radical treatment of all the options. A lot of people wouldn't choose that course of treatment. So I wondered if his past experience, living in a hole for 600 days, would have made him a strong man capable of enduring this most radical of treatments.
posted by smudgedlens at 10:13 PM on January 15, 2012


« Older Watch 30 giant hornets take out 30,000 honey bees...  |  Falling STAR*D?: It is common ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments