02 April 2012

Cure for Cancer: Support, Perseverance, and "Herbal Medicine"

I do not believe for one second that any person I've met has not had a family member or close friend affected by the disease deemed cancer. Acquiring a virus, disease, or experiencing a fatal accident can be what determines a persons outlook and perception of life, besides limiting or eradicating your previous physical life. In the comic "Our Cancer Year", written and illustrated by Harvey Pekar and Joyce Brabner, is as far as I can tell a tough but enlightening piece of literature. I read the fifth chapter of this comic book and was flooded with emotion. The chapter starts with a character named Harvey being escorted to the hospital for a routine check and possible surgery. After being admitted and moved to the operating room his family waits impatiently to hear the outcome of what happened. The doctor enters the room and lets the family know that Harvey has Lymphoma and they had to operate. His wife argues with the doctor and demands to know more, but the doctor proceeds to the next call.

After the doctor has left, many other nurses and friends offer emotional support. One nurse suggest Tod speak to a Clergyman for guidance, which immediately annoys Harvey's love interest. Instant religious guidance in the hospital annoyed me to some extent to, just because it insinuated an ideology of "No one knows whats wrong, but God will fix it if you attend mass downstairs". I guess I have this negative stigma because a nurse in the hospital suggested the cause of my spinal cord injury was caused by my satanic music.

Later that night Harvey is discussing what he would like to leave for his wife in case he dies and ponders how their relationship will move forward. I have been through this same situation with a girl I fell in love with up in Oregon in the time of my accident. Holding a steady relationship with a girl in high school while having no mobility or sensory feeling is no walk in the park, but neither is every other hospital relationship.

Harvey continues to have a hard time coping with his injury by throwing cinder blocks, kind of how I used to throw markers when I was frustrated with my lack of drawing ability in the hospital. His wife retreats to the car and then has to shoe away eager people who want to inspect the house for sale. She returns into the house and has a conversation with her lesbian carpenter friend about alternative medicine and how she wants to encourage Harvey to smoke. They never state what, but why would she encourage Harvey to smoke Tobacco? I have been through most of this same process of not knowing and constant mental struggle, but I also do find spiritual help through "Herbal Remedies" if you catch my drift. This is all besides the point. Our Cancer Year seems to be a pretty realistic depiction of how people deal with health problem and how concerned we get about a certain disorder AFTER we attain it. Ignorance is bliss, but knowledge is power.


  1. Awesome post.

    But, Harvey's wife- a LESBIAN? really?

  2. Ohh no no not his wife, his wife's friend. The carpenter helping renovate the house has a female life-partner and suggests some alternative healing.

    1. Nice save, but I'm still curious as to why that's pertinent to your summary ;-)

      Not a bad post. You clearly related to the comic, and I'm glad you felt it was an accurate portrayal. But how does it relate to another text we've read?