A Disease’s Diagnosis In Stages

Having a disease changes your life, not only physically but socially and emotionally as well. Once you officially are diagnosed with something you can never go back. Recovering from the disease doesn’t mean you never head it; it will always be a part of you. What does change is your perspective of the world. There is a big difference from thinking you have a disease, knowing you do have it, and getting over it.

Thinking you may have a disease, but not really knowing for sure is a difficult place to be in. You don’t actually know what to fear because you don’t know if you have a disease; therefore you probably fear everything more intensely. I believe that, if you think you have a disease there is some part of you that deep down knows if you have the disease or not. Whether you want to admit that to yourself or not is a different story. Prior knew he was sick, but he didn’t want to admit it in this case to Louis, not his own self (Angles In America). Because Prior loved Louis so much and they were so close, Prior admitting he had AIDS to Louis was essentially him admitting it to himself. “AIDS, in which people are understood as ill before they are ill; which produces a seemingly innumerable array of symptoms-illness; for which there are only palliatives; and which brings to many a social death the proceeds the physical one” (Sontag 155). Once Prior officially was diagnosed he would have the disease and he would be ill, even before he was physically sick. He would be seen as ill by society and by his own self. Ignoring the diagnosis is sometimes easier than being ill.

The official diagnosis is hard to deal with. Not only do you have to deal with it, but also you have to live with it until either the disease kills you or for years past getting better from the disease. Sontag says, “Infected means ill, from that point forward” (155). Once you are diagnosed, you are for sure infected. If you are infected you are sick and people will treat you that way. “From the beginning the construction of the illness had depended on notions that separated one group of people from another-the sick from the well” (Sontag 155). Being diagnosed with a disease, especially AIDS, completely separates you from the rest of society. People do not want to be around you when you are sick. That is partly because they are afraid of contracting the disease and partly because being ill is not pleasant, it is not easy to look at or deal with. Sometimes you don’t want to be around the diseased person so much that you will leave them, even if they are your significant other. (Louis, I’m calling you out here).

After being diagnosed and “cured” life still goes on, but never the same way. You either die from the disease or live the rest of your life infected and treated differently. Living with a disease is hard to deal with internally. You have to remind yourself everyday the just because you have this disease it doesn’t mean you are sick. It is a reminder that you were sick. Sontag describes diseases as “punishment for living unhealthy lives” (153). Being “punished” for getting a disease is a horribly unhealthy mindset to constantly live with. That is the mindset that we as a society generally have towards diseases though, especially in the 1980s and 1990s with AIDS. In the end of the HBO movie Prior becomes healthy again and can continue living a life. He lives with AIDS, but he has to somehow find a way to move on each day (Angles In America). He does move on, but he knows that each day he is living with AIDS and one day it will kill him.

Being diagnosed with cancer, AIDS, or another disease is a difficult thing to deal with. You have to be brave enough to actually go in and get diagnosed by a doctor, deal with what that means for you and your life, and find a way to live until the disease ends up killing you. This is especially true before the minimum when medication was not as advanced as it is today. Prior found all this out he hard way by being diagnosed with AIDS.

Works cited
Angels in America (2001) HBO, Amazon Prime.
Sontag, Susan. “AIDS and its Metaphors.” The Disability Studies Reader. Ed. Lennard Davis. New York: Routledge, 2006.

Prior’s Death from AIDS and a Broken Heart

Prior’s Death from AIDS and a Broken Heart
In this play Prior and Louis have a strong relationship. This relationship ends when Louis leaves Prior. Louis leaves for multiple reasons. Prior’s death is what is focused on in the play, and how Louis fits into that.
Prior and Louis started off with the best relationship. I really enjoyed their relationship and dynamic. When Louis left I was genuinely sad. I wanted them to stay together. Louis left Prior because he could not take the stress of the AIDS on Prior and the thought of Prior dying. He decided to leave Prior before Prior could die and leave him. Prior is terrified of this disease and Louis leaving him. Prior’s biggest fear was that Louis would leave him. I do not like Louis for leaving Prior when Prior needed him most. In Act 1 Scene 5 Prior first tells Louis about his disease. When Louis asks why he didn’t tell him earlier, Prior responds with “I was scared, Lou. […] That you’ll leave me” (Angels IN America). Prior isn’t sure if Louis will come home that night, but he does. Everyday after that Prior fears that Louis will leave him because he cannot handle the disease. That is eventually what happens.
One particularly difficult night with the illness in Act II Scene 3 Prior is sent to the hospital in an ambulance. In the hospital Louis is talking to the nurse “I’m going […] Tell him, if he wakes up and you’re still on, tell him goodbye, tell him I had to go” (Angles in America). End of scene. I can’t believe Louis did that to Prior. That was an act of selfishness, not love. Love is selfless. If Louis really loved Prior he would have stayed with him during the entire illness. I believe Prior loved Lou enough and that he would have stayed if the situation had been reversed. In this play Prior “is not the pitiable nonentity hat the tabloids still like to call an “AIDS victim”; rather, he is a victim of Louis’s lousiness” (Wrestling with Angles 124). Not just the lousiness, but loneliness. This play isn’t about AIDS, it’s about people, some of whom just happen to have AIDS. Prior is without a doubt one of my favorite characters in this play, possibly my absolute favorite. I feel this sympathy for Prior because Louis left him in his time of need. He is dying, a horrible terrible experience no one wants to go through, let alone go through alone. On top of that, the love of his life leaves him. Now he is forced not only to go through death alone, but also to go through it with a broken heart.
I understand that Louis was also scared and working on his own emotions, but I was not happy with his decision to leave Prior. “Louis is forced to consider weather he is capable of truly loving; when he decides that he is and tries to return to Prior, he finds that the ‘can’t come back’” (Identity and Conversion in Angles in America 156). Louis does toward the end want to go back to Prior. I do not think it is because Louis wants Prior in his life; it is because he does love him some and he wants to see him one more time. Louis needs to see Prior for selfish reasons, because he loves him. However he does not love him enough to stay with him any longer because of the disease. Louis should have loved Prior enough to either stay with him or not go back at all and put Prior through the emotional pain of seeing Louis again. Prior should not have had to see Louis again after he fled that night in the hospital when he was asleep. Prior did not need closure. Knowing Louis left him was painful enough and Prior was dealing with it. Louis coming back into Priors life like that, so selfishly was unfair to Prior.
In the beginning of the play Louis is at his grandma’s funeral. He had not visited his grandmother in years since she went into a home. To Louis, she was already dead. She was very sick and dying in the home. He did not and could not deal with her that way. “[A] dying person, although vulnerable, was anomalous-existing between the categories of life and death” (Death Before Dying 856). The in-between of life and death, edging on death is not something people are comfortable with, Louis is an example of those not being comfortable with it. He cannot be with Prior while he is dying. This is unfair to Louis grandma, Prior, and anyone else in this situation. Unfair, but that is life.
Louis’s selfishness makes him leave Prior. This was Priors biggest fear. My sympathy went out to Prior in this play. Louis leaving him while he is dying from AIDS is unbelievably unfair. In the end Prior dies and ultimately leaves the Earth and Louis. Life is unfair, but death is fair.

Works Cited
Geis, Deborah R., and Steven F. Kruger. “Identity and Conversion in Angels in America.” Approaching the Millenium: Essays on “Angels in America. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan, 1997. 151-69. Print.
Kushner, Tony. Angels in America part One, Millennium Approaches 1993, Theatre Communications Group
Niehaus, Isak. “Death Before Dying: Understanding AIDS Stigma in the South African Lowveld.” Journal of South African Studies. 33.4 (December 2007): 845-860.
Solomon, Alisa. “Wrestling with Angles: A Jewish Fantasia.” Approaching the Millenium: Essays on “Angels in America. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan, 1997. 151-69. Print.

End of Cancer Unit

End of Cancer Unit
Cancer is an extremely invasive and difficult disease. Stories of cancer and people’s experience with cancer have become more and more popular over the years. One reason may be because cancer is so predominate. Even if you don’t have cancer, you probably know someone who does or did. Caner is everywhere, even in our recreational media.
Margaret Edson’s play W;t provides a first person narrative of Vivian Bearing, a literature professor dying of cancer. She takes a long time to cope with her cancer. Eventually, the cancer takes over her mind. She realizes she is not going to survive, so she accepts death and approaches it as a last escape. The Fault in Our Stars movie is about Hazel and Gus’s romantic relationship. They just both happen to have cancer that will, or does, kill them in the end. The movie is Hazel’s personal narrative.
Both performances have death as a major theme. Their life ends by cancer. Weather they are optimistic about it or not, they die. Vivian is never optimistic. She hates her cancer and doesn’t associate herself with it. Death has always been a present option Hazel’s life from an early age. It is real and something and she cannot avoid it for long. Death from cancer, and the cancer itself, is part of Hazel. She recognizes and accepts that. In a way, that is optimism. She knows that she will die, there is no other option at this point; its science. When Hazel’s death approaches she will be much more content than when Vivian died.
The audiences in the two performances are completely different. The play is meant for high academia persons. They film is for modern young adults. Young adults seem to have a better understanding and accepting of death because generally they are father away from it. The audience makes a big impact on what is taken away from the performance.
Accepting death as a real option makes dying easier. Death is always going to occur to a person who has cancer. The question is will it be now when they are lying in pain in a hospital bed or will it be years later when they have lived a life past the cancer. Knowing which death is yours, and fully accepting it is the only way to come to peace with your caner and life.

Works Cited
Edson, Margaret. Wit: A Play, 1999.
Fault in Our Stars (2014). Available on Amazon Prime.

Personalizing Death and Survival

Julie Deardorf and Mark Petticrew et al both published articles on how a patient’s psychological coping styles affect treatment and survival. The mind-set of death, and death itself, is an increasingly popular topic young adult literature, film, and television. When people accept death, but keep an optimistic outlook toward survival, death becomes simpler.
Deardorf published an article highlighting the positive affects of a positive mindset. “Evidence is mounting that positive feelings can influence good health outcomes” (Deardorf 1). She explains how a positive mind-set helps “optimism is associated with better preventive self-care: It leads people to exercise more, eat a healthier diet and refrain form smoking” (2). She goes on to explain how optimism increases social support. According to Deardorf, reaming optimistic increases a patient’s chance of survival. Petticrew et al contradicts Deardorf. In the conclusion of their research they found that “there is at present little scientific basis for the popular lay and clinical belief that psychological coping styles have an important influence on overall or event-free survival in patients with cancer” (8). They say that all the studies done, much like Deardorf’s, were inconsistence and not based on scientific evidence.
As a nursing major, I do believe in the power of positive thinking as a healing agent. Optimism alone cannot cure a disease, however, it can assist. Along with medication and treatment, keeping a positive mind-set is helpful in staying hopeful for recovery and the future. I agree with Deardorf in that optimism helps with self-care. If you believe you are going to die and know it will happen soon why would you care for yourself and try to stay alive? However, falsely believing that you will completely be fine when you have stage four cancer is not helpful or acceptable. There needs to be a balance with your mind-set. It should be based on medical science with a hint of strength and hope for a future. The Petticrew et all article was extremely scientific, where as the Deardorf article was more personal. Caner is scientific, however survival is personal. The Deardorf article makes more logical since to me because survival is the main focus, not the cancer.
More recently, death has become a common theme in young adult literature. Strangely, death is something teens feel the need to connect with. Patty Campbell looks into this new phenomenon, “A puzzling aspect of this trend is that nowhere do we find spiritual questioning on the part of the dying, or ay consolation of faith” (360). Teens simply accept death and its “bleak sense of ending, of an imminent black nothingness” (Campbell 360) without questioning death. Why teens accept death so easily is interesting to me. Young adults feel far away from death because of their personal sense of immortality, felt through all teens for biological reasons. Death is a part of the real world and teens are embracing it because it is all around. In a way, teens go through a death of their own by becoming an adult; childhood and life as they have know all their life it is over forever. They know death is real, but it isn’t personal to them, because they have never fully died, only the death of childhood. It is interesting to read about because teens have a slight understanding, yet not a full understanding of the realness of death. Many books and movies targeted for young adults focus around death.
One popular young adult move, The Fault In Our Stars, has death as one of the main themes. This movie, based on a book, is the love story of two cancer ridden teens. Both Hazel and Augustus had cancer as kids and continued into their teens. The movie is about their relationship, but death plays a big part because death plays a big part in life. Hazel fears for others after she dies. She is not scared of her death; she accepts it because it is so real for her. For Augustus it is more about life than death. He wants to leave an impact on the world after he is gone. Neither Hazel nor Augustus personalizes death. Death has always been a present option in their life from an early age. It is real and something they cannot avoid for long.
Death is prominent in our lives, weather we have cancer or not. The viewpoint you have on death is essential to your survival. Accepting death as a real option makes dying easier. Accepting survival as an option is helpful for treatment of cancer. Many teens enjoy reading about death and watching it portrayed in movies. This helps teen relate to death, without experiencing it. Death is real. Personalized or not, death is death. It is evident everyday.

Works Cited

Campell, Patty. “YA Lit and the Deathly Fellows” The Horn Book Magazine 84:3 (May/Jun 2008): 357- MLA International Bibliography. Web.
Deardorf, Julie.”Optimism Can Help, Hinder Patients.” Chicago Tribune. 23 Sept 2010. Chicagotribune.com. Web.
Petticrew, Mark with Ruth Bell and Duncan Hunter. “Influence of Psychological Coping on Survival and Recurrence in People with Cancer.” BMJ 325:9 (Nov 2002) bmj.com
The Fault In Our Stars. Dir. Josh Boone. Perf. Ansel Elgort, Shailene Woodley. 2014. Film.

Cancer: Mental over Physical Disease

Cancer is an extremely invasive and difficult disease. Stories of cancer and people’s experience with cancer have become more and more popular over the years. One reason may be because cancer is so predominate. Even if you don’t have cancer, you probably know someone who does or did. Tig Notaro, Margaret Edson, and Audre Lorder are all performers that give us insight into their cancer world. They want to tell an audience how personal cancer is and how much more of a mental disease it is than just physical.
Tig Notaro uses her comedic talents to express her feelings about her cancer experience. As a performer, she can only perform what she knows. Notaro knows how she feels about cancer. Her diagnosis of cancer was difficult for her to grasp. Most people never assume they will get cancer. She brings up themes of isolation and disruption of everyday activities. Everyday things such as dating, eating, and conversations are all different now (Notaro). How is she supposed to go out on dates and tell the person she has cancer? No one is going to start a relationship with you as you are dealing with cancer. You cannot start a relationship and cancer treatment at the same time; it just doesn’t work. Notaro’s family and friends treat her differently. Her dad wanted to fly out to be with and take care of his daughter while she was living with cancer. Now that she has cancer, people treat her differently. She feels isolated because all anyone can talk about to her is her cancer. Notaro feels she has cancer, not that she is cancer. Everything we know about her how she views cancer is based off of her first few weeks after diagnosis. Expectedly, after months of living with cancer her views will most likely change.
Margaret Edson’s play W;t follows the life of Vivian Bearing, a college professor who has cancer. The play is set in her hospital room and depicts her struggle with cancer. Vivian feels personally offended that she developed cancer. As her cancer gets worse and eventually kills her, Vivian becomes weaker and weaker emotionally and physically. The cancer takes over her mind. She realizes she is not going to survive, so she accepts death and approaches it as an escape. A theme Edson brings up is the complete take over cancer has on the patient. The
Audre Lorder’s Cancer Journals are an 18 month time-lapse collection of how she emotionally lives after her mastectomy from breast cancer. The journals start six months after her mastectomy. In the beginning Lorder writes, “[T]he terrible thing is that nothing goes past me these days, nothing” (9). She feels incredible inner pain. As time goes on she wants to give up. “What is this work all for?” (Lorder 10). “I don’t feel like being strong, but do I have a choice?” (Lorder 11). Lorder feels sadness and isolated. She does not think it is possible to move on from cancer. In the end she starts to get over the depression she has developed as a cause of her cancer and mastectomy. Life does not get all the way better or go back to normal for her. “I live with the constant fear of recurrence of another cancer” (12), Lorder writes. She will never truly be able to move on completely, but she can, and wants to, go on with life. Lorder brings up the theme of perseverance. She keeps pushing through until she, for the most part, gets over the emotional trauma of cancer.
A podcast, a play, and a journal are all different works of performance. Nataro’s podcast is a comedic piece meant to make you laugh. She uses verbal delivery along with the formula: tragedy + timing = comedy. She wants people to laugh and laugh at her dealing with cancer. The play is meant to be performed. The audience is supposed to walk away with their own interpretation of Vivian and her cancer. Each actor portrays Vivian differently, and reading the play the reader can interpret Vivian differently. The journal is Lorder’s own thoughts written for her. The podcast and the play are performances for others and the journal is a performance for the author. The podcast and the journal is the authors’ personal experience with cancer. The play is the authors explaining someone else’s struggle with cancer. Every person deals with cancer differently and every type of performance is different. This explains why each character struggles in their own way.
Notaro’s podcast shows us the begging’s of interpreting the disease, Edson’s play shows us the present fighting of the disease, and Lorder’s journal show us the after affects of the disease. All three authors convey that cancer is separate from the individual. Tig Notaro, Vivian Bearing, and Audre Lorder each have a form of cancer. They let us into their world and mind to show us how painful and dominating of a disease cancer is.

Works cited
Edson, Margaret. Wit: A Play, 1999.
Lorder, Audre. The Cancer Journals. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books, 1999.
Notaro, Tig. “Live” 2012 Podcast. ITunes or Grooveshark.

Cancer: Mental over Physical Disease

Cancer is an extremely invasive and difficult disease. Stories of cancer and people’s experience with cancer have become more and more popular over the years. One reason may be because cancer is so predominate. Even if you don’t have cancer, you probably know someone who does or did. Tig Notaro, Margaret Edson, and Audre Lorder are all performers that give us insight into their cancer world. They want to tell an audience how personal cancer is and how much more of a mental disease it is than just physical.

Tig Notaro uses her comedic talents to express her feelings about her cancer experience. As a performer, she can only perform what she knows. Notaro knows how she feels about cancer.   Her diagnosis of cancer was difficult for her to grasp. Most people never assume they will get cancer. She brings up themes of isolation and disruption of everyday activities. Everyday things such as dating, eating, and conversations are all different now (Notaro). How is she supposed to go out on dates and tell the person she has cancer? No one is going to start a relationship with you as you are dealing with cancer. You cannot start a relationship and cancer treatment at the same time; it just doesn’t work. Notaro’s family and friends treat her differently.   Her dad wanted to fly out to be with and take care of his daughter while she was living with cancer. Now that she has cancer, people treat her differently. She feels isolated because all anyone can talk about to her is her cancer. Notaro feels she has cancer, not that she is cancer. Everything we know about her how she views cancer is based off of her first few weeks after diagnosis. Expectedly, after months of living with cancer her views will most likely change.

Margaret Edson’s play W;t follows the life of Vivian Bearing, a college professor who has cancer. The play is set in her hospital room and depicts her struggle with cancer. Vivian feels personally offended that she developed cancer. As her cancer gets worse and eventually kills her, Vivian becomes weaker and weaker emotionally and physically.   The cancer takes over her mind. She realizes she is not going to survive, so she accepts death and approaches it as an escape. A theme Edson brings up is the complete take over cancer has on the patient. The cancer took control of Vivian’s life.                                                                                                                Audre Lorder’s Cancer Journals are an 18 month time-lapse collection of how she emotionally lives after her mastectomy from breast cancer. The journals start six months after her mastectomy. In the beginning Lorder writes, “[T]he terrible thing is that nothing goes past me these days, nothing” (9). She feels incredible inner pain. As time goes on she wants to give up. “What is this work all for?” (Lorder 10). “I don’t feel like being strong, but do I have a choice?” (Lorder 11). Lorder feels sadness and isolated. She does not think it is possible to move on from cancer. In the end she starts to get over the depression she has developed as a cause of her cancer and mastectomy. Life does not get all the way better or go back to normal for her. “I live with the constant fear of recurrence of another cancer” (12), Lorder writes.   She will never truly be able to move on completely, but she can, and wants to, go on with life. Lorder brings up the theme of perseverance. She keeps pushing through until she, for the most part, gets over the emotional trauma of cancer.

A podcast, a play, and a journal are all different works of performance. Nataro’s podcast is a comedic piece meant to make you laugh. She uses verbal delivery along with the formula: tragedy + timing = comedy. She wants people to laugh and laugh at her dealing with cancer. The play is meant to be performed. The audience is supposed to walk away with their own interpretation of Vivian and her cancer.  Each actor portrays Vivian differently, and reading the play the reader can interpret Vivian differently. The journal is Lorder’s own thoughts written for her. The podcast and the play are performances for others and the journal is a performance for the author. The podcast and the journal is the authors’ personal experience with cancer. The play is the authors explaining someone else’s struggle with cancer. Every person deals with cancer differently and every type of performance is different. This explains why each character struggles in their own way.

Notaro’s podcast shows us the begging’s of interpreting the disease, Edson’s play shows us the present fighting of the disease, and Lorder’s journal show us the after affects of the disease. All three authors convey that cancer is separate from the individual.   Tig Notaro, Vivian Bearing, and Audre Lorder each have a form of cancer. They let us into their world and mind to show us how painful and dominating of a disease cancer is.

 

Works cited

Edson, Margaret. Wit: A Play, 1999.

Lorder, Audre. The Cancer Journals. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books, 1999.

Notaro, Tig. “Live” 2012 Podcast. ITunes or Grooveshark.