A few years ago, I wrote a blog about a favorite TV show of mine. It seems like today is the 20th anniversary (what??!!!) of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" arguably, (or not!) one of the best shows of all time. Why am I writing about some TV show? What does this have to do with pediatric cancer? Stay with me...
There once was the incredible show called Buffy the Vampire Slayer. If you watched and were a fan of the show, you will totally understand this. If not, I’ll give a brief background. But go and rent and watch the show. Not because it will help you to understand this, but because it’s just a great show!
There is Buffy. She is a normal high school girl until one day she told she now has to fight demons and vampires. Bam. Her life is turned upside down and now she can no longer do all the things a normal teenager does because she has to spend her time fighting these monsters so they don’t kill everyone in town.
One of the biggest issues she faces, is that she has very little help. The whole town just seems to go on and not see that there are vampires killing people left and right. They are in denial. They don’t want to believe these things happen. Not in Sunnydale. Sunnydale is a nice little town where everyone is happy and everything is perfect. So they close their eyes and minds and just go on with their lives.
There is an actual term called, “Sunnydale Syndrome.” Google it. It’s when there is a “universe where “it seems that with your average person, their attention span is wholly taken up with the gray mundanity of their everyday lives. Literally, they can’t see anything too strange” and therefore ignore the weirdness that surrounds them…while the main characters in the story are entirely focused on interacting with it. This trope is otherwise known as “Sunnydale Syndrome” — named after the setting of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where everyone is oblivous to the vampires and other evil creatures who walk around right under their noses.” (The Popular Uncanny.)
There is this whole other world going on. One where the fate of the world is in jeopardy every day (or at least once each season .) Buffy is screaming, “Don’t you see what’s happening here!” But everyone just denies its existence. If it were acknowledged, it would have to be dealt with. Buffy’s frustration at being stuck in this world that no one really sees, leaves her feeling lonely and isolated.
That is what fighting cancer is like. Unless others can see this world for what it really is, we can never win the fight. Some people eventually open their eyes to it. Others choose to keep them closed. Some people won’t believe it until that vampire comes knocking on their door. Only cancer doesn’t ask if it can come in. It just does. It breaks the door down.
Cancer is indiscriminate. It doesn’t care if you are rich, poor, a good person or a bad person. Just like the vampires, it’s just looking for a warm body to sustain it. It doesn’t just pray on the weak. It is bold enough, and strong enough, to attack anyone. So when it busts in the door to the house next door, will you turn your head and pretend it doesn’t exist? Or will you join the fight, so that it doesn’t come after you, next?
You may be afraid. I know it can be difficult to find the right words. But there are no right words. Sometimes the worst thing to do or say, is nothing at all.