Author and provocateur Christopher Hitchens is a better writer than I am. That became clear as I read this article from Vanity Fair describing his diagnosis and early treatment for metastatic cancer. It is touching, witty, evocative, nearly free of self-pity and, from what I've seen of similar circumstances, honest and accurate. I liked this passage, describing the emergency medical team responding to the crisis that revealed his cancer:
I had the time to wonder why they needed so many boots and helmets and so much heavy backup equipment, but now that I view the scene in retrospect I see it as a very gentle and firm deportation, taking me from the country of the well across the stark frontier that marks off the land of malady.
I wish I'd thought of that metaphor for Mom's Cancer. Very visual. It would've been good to draw.
Hitchens notices some of the same things I did during my mother's experience: why all the war metaphors, why is cancer always a "battle," yet what better language exists to express what's happening? What's this sudden intimacy, where strangers feel entitled to lay their hands all over you without an introduction or explanation? He also writes about feelings or experiences that could only be described by the afflicted, which I'm always quick to say I wasn't.
Hitchens is a polarizing personality. Some people passionately hate him for his politics and others for his outspoken atheism. Some cheered when he announced his cancer diagnosis. I appreciate his talents and public persona both because and in spite of the positions he argues. I just like the fact that he argues--passionately, wittily, and well. I also like good writing on any topic wherever I find it. I think his Vanity Fair piece, on a topic I've covered as well, is very good.