Yelling at Cancer

I have developed a reputation during my decades as a journalist and grump, but it’s not something that I find is very useful to me now.

In the many complimentary letters and notes I’ve received since I announced my advanced cancer prognosis (I feel at times like Tom Sawyer hiding in the church choir happily listening to his own eulogy) I am occasionally reminded of that reputation.

Kevin Flynn worked in Room 9 (the city hall press room) at the same time I did eons ago when I was still drinking coffee. He sent me a commiserating note that included this: “I hope you are still yelling at everyone once in a while. i always loved it when you yelled at someone.”


And Anthony Castellano commented after I mentioned a post-chemo ‘roid rage aimed at a motorist who hesitated at an intersection: “I would have paid good money to see Mark Mooney curse out that poor son of a bitch in the intersection.” Anthony and I worked together long after I began drinking decaf, so maybe caffeine wasn’t the problem.

My voice has been heard over the din of Yankee Stadium when a player has disappointed me.

And my wife and kids have watched me threaten numerous machines with the idea that even if my immediate tirade doesn’t produce the desired effect, other nearby devices might be intimidated into behaving.

Needless to say, you don’t want to be the person or computer who robo calls me.

But I don’t know how to roar at cancer. Or the meds. It seems the only thing I can do is sullenly surrender to yet another needle, another hospital gown, yet one or two more scans.

I am always struck by those obits that say the deceased “battled cancer.” I suppose there is a war of wills for some people, but I don’t feel like I am fighting back. I am enduring. I am taking my meds, gritting through the side effects, and usually hiding from people because I’m tired — physically tired and tired of thinking, talking and writing about this.

What I would give to do real battle, to have a heavy wrench and just hammer on this disease, or take a bat to the side effects. Or at least have it rise up in front of me in some shape so I could curse it into submission.

It has been suggested to me that maybe a whispered prayer might do more good. But then there is the danger of a side effect — whiplash.

This is the latest installment in the blog Closing in on -30- about my doctor’s pronouncement that I have about two years to live.