Cancer During the Trump Era

9 Oct

I was just recently diagnosed with cancer, specifically colon cancer. I am still processing what this means and how it will impact me and my family. A good bit of me says “fuck cancer,” but a large part of me is just simply terrified. As my friends and family are gathering around me to support me, they insist that”I have the strength to beat cancer,” which keeps being echoed. I’m not sure I believe this–and I have serious doubts I can beat cancer during 45’s administration. I need to let everyone know that that the artwork shown at the end of the article was done by some former students, now friends/colleagues of mine–thank you Erin and Nick. I love you both!

In the context of living in the US during 45’s reign of terror, being diagnosed with cancer is making me wonder if perhaps this is my time to go. Being barraged everyday with another assault on human rights by a narcissistic autocrat is quite wearing on one’s emotional (and obviously physical) health. The intense racism, homophobia, misogyny, and classism have been more than just revolting: they speak to the very worst in humans. I must confess, this is not the world I want to live in and the fatigue of 45 is real. I also constantly worry I do not know how to adequately take care of those whom I love and love me. I know people that love me are scared and I struggle with how to care for all of these wonderful amazing people.

While hurricane Maria wreaks havoc on Puerto Rico (an American Territory), 45 has the chutzpah to blame the country and even worse, to blame the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz. (How dare you be a strong and smart woman!) On a side note, one should mention that Trump helped to contribute to the debt of Puerto Rico when he abandoned his golf course there and left the people of Puerto Rico with the 33 million dollar debt he created. To further push his racist agenda, 45 thinks he is on a television show again and wants NFL owners to fire the black athletes who kneel in protest of the racism people of color experience daily in the United States. 45’s exact words: “Fire the Son of a Bitch”–my how presidential. It is very difficult for me not to hear this as: Hey, all you white owners, you need to tell all of these black people how lucky they have it to work on the field.

More discouraging news which does not encourage one to fight any type of cancer: Gollum, I mean AG Jeff Session just found a way to allow employers not to cover the cost of birth control for women, but will continue to cover the cost of medication for men to have an erection. This all falls in alignment with what misogynist and homophobe Mike Pence has been promising around Religious Freedom, a.k.a the justification to hate and deny people their civil rights. In an effort to spread more hate and venom, on October 6, Sessions issued a 25 page memo that outlines how all business can now legally discriminate against people in the LGBTQ community under “religious freedom,” meaning Christianity. Who would Jesus Hate? This memo supported by 45 is one of the most significant bills of hate. Of course, the insane Spin Doctor 45 responded to this proposed bill with: “his administration will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore.” Wow! I have no words on how to address this twisting of power and the ability to sustain a white supremacist, homophobic, misogynistic power structure. If you are not actively resisting this mishigas, you are NOT an ally to targeted communities. Here is where I will agree with Rex Tillerson: “Trump is a fucking moron.” I have to also agree with GOP Bob Corker referring to the  “Whitehouse as an adult day care center.” Wow! I just agreed with two Republicans.

Yes, as you can see, there is not a great deal of motivation to fight cancer given the overwhelming amount of power that normalizes HATE, normalizes homophobia, normalizes racism, normalizes misogyny, and vilifies any type of journalism that tries to hold 45 and his white robed cabinet accountable. It’s so hard to believe that all of this has happened in just one week, the week since I received my diagnosis.

And yet! And yet I am going to fight in ways that people better be scared of me! I am 50 years old and I don’t believe I have said “Fuck You” to enough people. I have not shown enough active resistance to tyranny. Now is my time. I shall call this cancer “45,” and I shall fight it until I kick its ass and defeat it. My ability to defeat this cancer will signify that communities all over the country can use our power to love each other and embolden targeted communities–we can tap into our shared humanity and refuse to live in fear. “I ain’t dead yet.” Stay tuned!

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35 Responses to “Cancer During the Trump Era”

  1. mary russell October 9, 2017 at 6:20 am #

    I was diagnosed at 60…20 years ago. Hang in there and follow your instincts. They have served you well so far.

  2. Beth Means October 9, 2017 at 6:51 am #

    I am sitting next to my husband who was diagnosed with an untreatable cancer 7 years ago. He’s doing fine. One day he won’t be, but for now life is really good. Do not listen to statistics. They are all based on treatments of 20 years ago. The minute you walk through the door of that clinic, they no longer apply to you. You have a very treatable one if you caught it early. Take awhile to get used to the idea. Then, go for it. Ignore the politics for now. Lance Armstrong foundation has tons of information and good links. A good place to start. All the best,

  3. Joan Ayala October 9, 2017 at 6:52 am #

    I suppose this does not need to be said, but you are one of a huge tribe of Americans who are horrified on a daily – sometimes hourly basis – by our President and the people around him. This is what I would like to say to you, Michael…more and more I believe that it is a person to person connection that will – and already is – saving this country. Regardless of what 45 does, so many of us here “on the ground” choose to love one another in a non-judgmental, open-hearted way – with cultural humilty and minds open to ways that may not be our own…
    You literally embody this idea…I watched you shine with a brilliant mind and welcomming spirit st the GSSW…and learned from you.
    Do not give up the ghost…as long as you are alive you are touching hearts, bringing folks together and creating communities out of diverse people. Many of us are…
    Please keep your perspective at ground level…where real people walk and struggle and overcome…that is where “real” lives. And that is where you are desperately needed…
    Be well and stay alive.
    Love to you and yours.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt October 9, 2017 at 7:03 am #

      Joan, thank you for the very kind words! I will continue to try and tap into people’s shared humanity, realizing there are times I fail. Thank you for your voice of strength, as you are human that spreads love and compassion! Much love to you and yours.

  4. katy b. October 9, 2017 at 7:33 am #

    Michael, I am so sorry about your diagnosis and wish you strength in this frightening time of your life. Although I only know you online, I sense your tenacity to beat it. You always “fight the power” with your eloquent writing and can win this battle, too. You state what so many of us feel but only think to ourselves.
    Garner everything you can in this horrible period of your health and our shared history to sustain yourself. Keep fighting out loud and stay strong!

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt October 9, 2017 at 7:59 am #

      Thank you, Katy! I so appreciate your words of kindness and support! I hope we can work in solidarity to help heal the country from 45 and for those of us with cancer and other ailments, I hope we also heal! Peace, Michael.

  5. Paula Peace Moore October 9, 2017 at 7:56 am #

    Michael, You sure as hell need to forget about goddam 45 and focus on Robert and the hundreds of students you’ve inspired. Your work of giving and inspiring and loving is not done on this earth! If you’re not meditating, please consider it. And turn off MSNBC and get focused on your gratitude and reach out to your guardian angels. I’m glad you’re angry, but turn it into determination rather than resignation. This past December I was diagnosed with breast cancer (my 2nd primary breast cancer) and my 3rd cancer. I also went through the “well, is this it?” journey, but finally found my Hell No esprit. Whatever you’d say to one of your lucky students, say it to yourself. You are a wise mentor and know the answers, if you will get quiet, listen, and connect with your higher power. Apologies for my know-it-all comment, but I love you and feel very connected to your pain and frustration. Sending healing light and much love, Paula

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt October 9, 2017 at 8:02 am #

      My Dear Paula, thank you so much for reaching out! Yuck! I’m sorry I did not know about your breast cancer, but I’m so grateful you beat it! Yes, I do need to start meditating and turning out all of the negative energy. I have so much to be grateful for–you, and all of my former and current students, and all of my amazing friends who are so full of love! Love to you, Paula.

  6. Kathleen Saadat October 9, 2017 at 8:37 am #

    Dear one, you will get through this. Now is the time for you to let your friends take care of you and for you to rest from taking care of others. Now is the time for you to make considered choices about the political battles in which you engage. Now is the time for you to do whatever you need to do to get well. Scream, cry, laugh, curl into a knot on your bed and rock yourself. Put your head on Robert’s chest and let him hold you. You will get through this and there are those of us willing to do whatever we can to to help. I am one of those. Your courage and your demonstrated love of justice have inspired us. Your kindness has tempered us. Now is the time for you to take care of you, however you need to do that. Time for you to embrace the return of the love you have so freely given to us all. Kathleen S

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt October 9, 2017 at 8:45 am #

      Kathleen, I am always so very grateful for you! You have inspired me, but you have inspired so many people in the United States. Yes, I need to try and allow people to help and care for me! I love you and can’t wait to see you and spend time with you.

  7. bevanyardleigh October 9, 2017 at 8:53 am #

    I am so sorry to hear of your diagnosis. Please know that you have inspired many (like me) who know you only through your words. I offer you my strength in return for the strength you’ve given me to keep working for real justice in these dark times. I hope for healing and joy for you.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt October 9, 2017 at 8:56 am #

      Thank you, Bevan. I need all the strength and good energy possible. Thank you again!

  8. Meg October 9, 2017 at 9:12 am #

    FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT! Please don’t let this soulless administration take you down with their sinking ship. I’ve been reminded a lot that fear and despair are waves – you should let them wash over and past you. However, we’ve all been battered by such an onslaught it’s hard to keep standing. Your words have helped me hit the reset button many times and find my footing. So now I wish you all the strength and positive energy possible to weather this.

  9. nayabear October 9, 2017 at 12:13 pm #

    I’m so sorry to hear about your diagnosis. Everything you say in this post reflects what I feared when we were discussing events in class before the election. Maybe it’s time to ignore the world for a while to build up your reserves for yourself, your family and friends, and lastly the rest of the world. Trust that you have helped create/inspire plenty of other social justice warriors who can carry the water while you lick your wounds. Peace and health and lots of love–TM

  10. Christine Noble October 9, 2017 at 12:59 pm #

    You can beat this dear. You have not said everything you have to say yet.

  11. rosie49 October 9, 2017 at 1:41 pm #

    You speak for so many of us who are sick and tired of having to fight all the time for basic rights — and I include the right and access to affordable healthcare. Please do not stop fighting; especially for your self. I wish you strength and healing for your battle with cancer. I don’t think I’m alone in this — allow loved ones and your team of healers to support you. Thank you for all your posts. Please know they help us all when we are frustrated and can’t articulate it.

  12. brianarbenz October 9, 2017 at 2:46 pm #

    No one can take from you the life you have left to live. You can’t change everything in the world that needs to be changed, though your efforts are the finest among all of ours. You can, however, stop 45 from disrupting your inner peace. That illness you can cure in an instant. Love wins, Michael!

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt October 9, 2017 at 7:09 pm #

      Thank you from my whole heart, Brian. You are truly a mensch. Love and peace, Michael.

      • brianarbenz October 10, 2017 at 9:53 am #

        Thank you, and all the best to you!

  13. katmoca October 9, 2017 at 7:18 pm #

    Thank you for sharing and for agreeing to fight this with every fiber. I have known you long enough to know that “giving in” was never in your wheelhouse. You and your work are too important in this world. Besides, you have yet to tell me to “fuck off” so there is always THAT to look forward to😉 Wishing you much love and strength 💜

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt October 9, 2017 at 8:13 pm #

      Kathy, thank you for making me cry and for giving me strength! Lots of love, Michael.

  14. Lyn St. Louis October 10, 2017 at 1:19 am #

    Wishing you strength and courage as you face this challenge, Michael. Your voice is needed during these confused and turbulent times. We can overcome this presidency and you can overcome this cancer. Sending love and all good wishes your way.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt October 10, 2017 at 6:03 am #

      Thank you, Lyn! It is of great comfort that we are working in solidarity to RESIST! Peace, Michael.

  15. Leah Hughes October 11, 2017 at 8:31 pm #

    The Penitent
    BY EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY

    I had a little Sorrow,
    Born of a little Sin,
    I found a room all damp with gloom
    And shut us all within;
    And, “Little Sorrow, weep,” said I,
    “And, Little Sin, pray God to die,
    And I upon the floor will lie
    And think how bad I’ve been!”

    Alas for pious planning —
    It mattered not a whit!
    As far as gloom went in that room,
    The lamp might have been lit!
    My Little Sorrow would not weep,
    My Little Sin would go to sleep —
    To save my soul I could not keep
    My graceless mind on it!

    So up I got in anger,
    And took a book I had,
    And put a ribbon on my hair
    To please a passing lad.
    And, “One thing there’s no getting by —
    I’ve been a wicked girl,” said I;
    “But if I can’t be sorry, why,
    I might as well be glad!”

  16. trp2011 October 12, 2017 at 4:52 pm #

    I’m so sorry! Thanks for letting us know and keep us posted. – Nel

  17. brianarbenz October 25, 2017 at 10:50 am #

    Life transcends partisan politics, even with the thug in the White House now. Your health and your comfort need not be burdened further with external events. Yes, you and I and all decent people are called on to fight the fascism of 45 and others. But live and enjoy the good of your life, Michael!

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt October 27, 2017 at 11:50 am #

      Thank you, Brian. You are always so exceedingly kind and generous of heart. Peace, Michael.

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