I was watching the Cubs play the other day. I don’t know why I watch the Cubs as much as I do. I wouldn’t say I enjoy the experience. I love them far too much for the games to be fun. I spend most of the nine innings throwing my hands up at the television and texting my buddy Mat about how depressed the team is making me.
Yet there I am, almost every day, following the game. Hanging breathlessly on every pitch. And then afterwards I’m lying in bed on Twitter reading all the post game reaction, adding my own two cents to the conversation. I hit a low point a couple of weeks ago when I found legitimate solace in the fact that ChicagoSportsFanatic132 liked and shared one of my Tweets.
So last Tuesday there I was, on my couch, watching the game, when one of the announcers broke the news that a former baseball player, someone who won a World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals, had died of brain cancer. His name was Chris Duncan. He was 38 years old, and according to the broadcasters he had, “Lost his battle.”
Lost his battle.
Now obviously I’m fairly sensitive to these types of stories. While they would make any person feel sad, stories like that scare the shit out of me.
They scare me so much that I limit my exposure to them. I hide most of the cancer social media groups I’m a part of. Because for every heart warming success story, there are two of the other variety. I’m well aware of that possibility. I don’t feel the need to be reminded of it.
But it’s impossible to seal myself completely off. So last Tuesday while the announcers were sharing highlights of Chris’s career, I went to the kitchen and poured myself a cup of water.
The more I thought about it the angrier I got. They said he, “lost his battle.” I wasn’t mad at them. They were simply using the parlance we’ve assigned to this thing. We call it a battle. We call it a fight. And battles and fights can only be lost or won.
But losing has such a negative connotation. It implies that there was something he could have done differently in order to win.
Think about it- every time someone loses something people spend the next week breaking down everything that the people did wrong. Everywhere the team was at fault. If only the Seahawks had run the ball they wouldn’t have thrown that last minute interception and lost to the Patriots in that Super Bowl. If only the Cubs didn’t swing at so many pitches outside of the strike zone maybe we wouldn’t be 4 1/2 games out of first place. If Hillary had campaigned harder in the Upper Midwest maybe she would have won the presidency.
“Why didn’t we.”
Absolutely none of these phrases should ever be applied to someone dealing with cancer.
Because first of all, how can someone lose something that’s not a fair fight!? It’s like saying Bermuda lost its battle with Hurricane Dorian. Bermuda’s down there like, “Are you kidding?? We never even had a chance!” And while I don’t want to take anything away the progress made by modern medicine, it’s still only made a dent.
Secondly, whether or not the medicine they give you works has nothing do to with you! Can you imagine being in a duel and your second gives you the gun and says, “Now your opponent’s gun, definitely firing on all cylinders. Yours? We’ll just have to see! Hope you don’t lose your battle!”
Chris Duncan was the 2005 St. Louis Cardinals Team Rookie of the Year.
In 2006 he hit 22 homers and won the World Fucking Series.
He was a husband and a radio announcer with ESPN.
He died. Which will happen to all of us at some point.
He didn’t lose a thing.