My DNA is trying to kill me. Six-and-a-half years ago it almost did. In one white blood cell, a strand of DNA unzipped and released a monster that sent my immune system into overdrive, telling it to attack the rest of my body. The medical term for that is leukemia.
People like to use the term “fighting cancer”, but I find that metaphor to be lacking. It’s hard to fight something that’s wired into your genetic code. How do you define victory? I can’t will this thing out of me. It’s with me for the rest of my life. If I manage to live long enough to die of something else, I can’t really celebrate the victory, I’ll still be dead.
That’s not to say there is no fighting. Oh, there is plenty of it. I’ve spent countless hours fighting with insurance companies and prescription drug providers. I fought the urge to quit a design job that I hated just so I could keep that “good” health insurance. I fight the anxiety and existential dread that I might not get to grow old with my wife or see our kids grow up. I fight the desire for that second cup of coffee in the morning because it will screw up my medication schedule.
All that fighting may put me in the ground before my DNA has a chance to figure out how to finish the job.