AMERICA REELS FROM CANCER DIAGNOSIS

“I never thought it could happen to us.”

***

On the night of Tuesday, November 8th, 2016, America was diagnosed with cancer.

“Of course we have cancer!” some lash out. “What did we expect, smoking two packs of Corruption a day, eating Systemic Racism every night, and bathing in the Liberal Smugness Tanning Booth for hours on end! Because of your stupidity and failure to heed my calls, the country I love has cancer!” These Americans do not hate America—they didn’t want to get cancer. They sincerely hope America becomes stronger after the chemo and finally comes to its senses and makes better life choices.

“We never thought this could happen to us,” others grieve, sobbing. “We quit those habits decades ago…why did the cancer creep up now?” Between the tears, some quietly agree with the “I Told You So” sentiment and sit, paralyzed by how blind they were. Chemotherapy is ugly and painful. And each American will react differently to it, “depending on which of the five stages of grief he or she is in when the chemo starts,” explained an American doctor. Many report being terrified not only because the disease might kill them but also because America might be so weak that actually, it’s the cure that does them in. “When I start vomiting from chemo’s radiation poisoning, I hope to be surrounded by love and support; not getting yelled at,” said one American, in response to posts on her Facebook feed, where the hashtag #WeToldYouSo has started to trend.

“Maybe we don’t actually have cancer!” some exclaim, frantically Googling for a second opinion. “Maybe we have one of the “better” kinds of cancers with a really high survival rate!” said one American. He acknowledges that chemo can be hard, but is quick to share a story about his friend for whom chemo treatment was, “actually really smooth compared to how bad it is for everyone else!”

“Excellent…” cheer a small few. Maybe they weren’t born this way, and maybe in an alternate universe they wouldn’t have become this; but whatever their origin story, today they are soulless zombies who feast on human hearts and brains. As much as everyone in the first three groups hates zombies, there have always been zombies peppered throughout humanity, and there will probably always be zombies. “History shows us that periods when the zombie population has been lowest were produced by cross-tribal cooperation and vigilance,” commented one American professor. “But it’s also true that in the immediate aftermath of these kinds of collective traumas, zombies go on the offensive,” she cautioned. A zombie radio host reportedly urged his listeners to take up arms: “They’re stunned! Go for the jugular!” A zombie march is planned in North Carolina, according to the group’s website.

Of course, grouping millions of people is a simplistic rhetorical device. The truth is that anyone can belong to any combination of the above tribes (and the countless tribes I’ve failed to give voice to), and that such identities overlap and change over time.

Personally, I accept that America does in fact have cancer. And we must undergo chemotherapy. If we survive the chemo, it is even possible that we become a better country for it. It is possible that, had Hillary Clinton become the president, Americans who identify today as Grievers or Deniers would have never fully empathized with Americans in the “I Told You So” camp. And that—assuming we have had cancer for some time—we would have suddenly dropped dead one day. Or maybe, in the hypothetical years after a Clinton 2016 win, the tribes keep bickering about whether or not we have cancer only to be eaten alive by a zombie apocalypse.

I’m optimistic that the collective trauma of this cancer diagnosis could be a character-building moment for many Americans across all tribes, who will never again for the rest of their lives take America for granted—our progress, our poorest, our role in the world, etc. I’m optimistic that America’s cancer diagnosis could serve as a wake up call to other countries. “If it can happen to America, it can happen to us!” remarked a popular French late night TV host.

Cancer is shitty. And chemo is going to fucking suck. In times of grief, we often want someone to blame. And President-elect Trump deserves blame for a great many evil things. “I’m looking to see how long it takes him to denounce the recent zombie hate crimes,” said a young, female law student. In other words, we’re all waiting to see: Is Trump the cancer, or the chemo? Or is he actually a zombie?

Continued the same student: “I’m also waiting to see who will finally cure cancer.”

 

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