Curing Cancer: A Fable

Once upon a time, a man was diagnosed with a malignant tumor.  Fortunately, it was caught early.  He visited several doctors to help him decide on the proper treatment.

The conservative doctor didn’t see anything wrong with the tumor, and refused to listen to any arguments against it.

The liberal doctor understood that sometimes cancer was harmful, but thought it could be controlled so it would be a kindlier, gentler cancer.

The politically correct doctor thought “malignant” was a judgmental term, and that doctors should start referring to such tumors as “differently benign.”

The  pseudo-left doctor suggested removing only the straight white male parts of the tumor.

The libertarian doctor believed that everything would be fine if the tumor were permitted to grow on it’s own, without outside interference.

The intellectual doctor said that tumors were just the result of biology, and therefore there would always be tumors of one kind or another, even though he fervently wished it were otherwise.

The post-modernist doctor denied that we could know there was a tumor, and also objected to the privileging of health.

The pseudo-intellectual doctor tsked about all of the unpredictable complications surgery could cause and concluded nothing could be done, though he did wring his hands in a very engaging way.

The pacifist doctor agreed the tumor should go, so long as it could be gotten rid of without killing any cancer cells.

The socialist doctor was a surgeon, and cut the fucking thing out, and the man lived happily ever after.



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10 thoughts on “Curing Cancer: A Fable”

  1. My difficulty with this parable is that everyone who reads it with approval casts themselves in the role of surgeon or patient, and casts somebody else in the role of the cancer. The next reader, however, is just as likely to think the *first* reader is part of the cancer. And there we have history’s circular firing squad.

  2. You left out the part where the doctor also removed the man’s extra kidney and his spare cornea for other patients who needed them more than he does.

  3. You forgot the Capitalist Doctor, who wouldn’t see him because he lacked insurance.

  4. Not to mention, wandering in from the philosophy joke thread, the objectivist doctor, who holds the patient in contempt for being so weak as to get sick in the first place, but is indeed willing to treat him — if he’s paid in gold.

  5. Lynn, just had surgery, so you forgot one! the capitalist doctor was a surgeon and cut it out and chargesdthe insurance company $300,000 to do it!

  6. Talk about forcing an outcome to meet personal philosophy, whew. You tied that puppy up and dragged it till there were only bones and a well worn tumor. Besides, pretty sure the socialist doctor decided the man was too old to waste state money on surgery.

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