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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019) and AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021).

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Y'know, the reason I had that afternoon in hospital, two days ago, getting some explorations done was partly because of an ongoing problem with reflux that is being handled perfectly well with Pariet (though it was worth exploring whether there was something that could be fixed once and for all). However, it was mainly prompted by the fact that a routine test had shown me to be at some risk of something much more serious such as bowel cancer.

The latter risk was always quite remote, and I wasn't very worried, at least most of the time. But I've seen too much cancer around me in my life, affecting various people very close to me. Even if the risk is remote, that sort of thing can still play on your mind as the day approaches for the consultations that are meant to rule it out. Okay ... but now that nothing like that was found in my case, the effect is the opposite. Obviously, there's some relief - it's a bit of weight off my shoulders, and although some very personal memories are touched on as I think of other people who've been victims of one form or another of this horrible disease, I've mainly been feeling in a quite lighthearted mood over the past 48+ hours. Just for once, I don't much feel like arguing about religion or politics. Nor do I want to talk any further, just now, about disease and death.

I'm really very fortunate to be in such general good health as I am, despite a minor problem or two. I should be enjoying it while I've got it.

What should we discuss that's not so heavy?

Maybe I need to get out and see some movies or something. Preferably some fun movies that don't require too much in the way of emotional investment or hard thinking. I wonder what's playing that I might enjoy.


Jerry Coyne said...

Well, spare a thought for Hitch, who isn't so lucky.

I love the euphemistic way they tell us that they're doing tests "to rule something out."

Russell Blackford said...

Yeah, Jerry, Christopher Hitchens' less fortunate situation had certainly occurred to me when I was thinking about this. I hope he'll be okay.

But there are various people much closer to me than that who've suffered from cancer or even died from it, directly or indirectly (my mother, for just one ... she survived more than one bout of major breast cancer surgery, but there were indirect health impacts that ultimately contributed to her death, many years later ... but really, I'd rather not open up a lot about such personal things on this blog, so please forgive me if I don't explore this further at the moment ... maybe we'll talk about it in person next time we meet up IRL).

It's actually nice to live in a country with a public health system that runs screening programs to try to catch things like bowel cancer. That's something else for me to appreciate.

Blake Stacey said...

"What should we discuss that's not so heavy?"

There seems to be less science-fiction talk around here than there used to be. I miss the days when we could all chat about the ways the Clarke/Lee Rama sequels differ from the Clarke original, and the like.

Apropos: folks in the science-blogging orbit have started proposing sessions and panel themes for the ScienceOnline 2011 conference. One of the topics I suggested, based on some discussions we had at the 2010 meeting back in January, was "Science in Fiction". What does it mean that a made-up story is "scientifically accurate" (or not), and what can we, as busybodies on the Internet, do about it? I'd definitely be interested to hear any thoughts you have in that vein. Last year, we had people who'd been involved in science advising for movies and TV shows, but we didn't have so much input from the literary/critical side.

Rorschach said...

"However, it was mainly prompted by the fact that a routine test had shown me to be at some risk of something much more serious such as bowel cancer."

If it was an occult blood test, those are fairly unreliable and their specificity is awful.Family history, like having first degree relatives with bowel cancer, is a more useful indicator to be vigilant !

"It's actually nice to live in a country with a public health system that runs screening programs to try to catch things like bowel cancer. "

That is true, although you need a decent GP who will alert you to those screening programs, not all of them do !

As to the Hitch, that's just sad, and unfortunately I don't think he'll be okay at all.

My dad is 68 now and drives 80km on the bike most days, he's fitter than me ! It's great to have good health, so your lightheartedness is well deserved !

mryana said...

Hey, what about a little bit of light-hearted humor?

I found this site for you:


(Also, have you ever seen the movie, "Pay it Forward" ?
stock up on some of your favourite snacks and beverage and enjoy ;0)

BTW:Glad to hear of your good news!

stuart said...

lighthearted story - when i got a colonoscapy i awoke to find they had waxed my crack, inner things and half my scrotom. my GP said he had never heard of that.