Life and Cancer – a conversation

“Psssst”, said the darkly swaddled figure from the gloom shrouded recess in the night lit alley on the seedier side of town. Again, “Psssssst!”, and, as the cankerous figure to whom this was said turned suspiciously, for it was not used to being addressed in this manner, the words “Over here!” were accompanied by a bare gesticulation of the arm.
“Me?”, said the cankerous figure with some surprise, for it was not used to being addressed at all let alone accosted as it made its way through the world. In response to an affirming nod the cankerous figure slowly approached the shrouded recess peering into the darker gloom for some indication as to who, or what, was interrupting his own journey. “You look kind of familiar”, said the cankerous one, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen you around here before. Have I?”
The swaddled one made no reply save only to shake his dimly seen head, but ,in doing so, the hood which had been casting a deeper shadow within the shadow that was his disguise moved allowing a passing moon beam to momentarily light his face.
The cankerous one stopped in sudden amazement. “I was right! I do know you, but Life, what are you doing here? This isn’t your part of town!”
“I have a job for you”, said Life simply.
“I don’t work for you”, replied the cankerous one. “I work only for Death, and it’s his business I’m about tonight, so, do not delay me for he is a hard taskmaster and does not take well to delay!”
“Death knows I am here and talking with you. We have been speaking about you and your work for some time now, as he grows increasingly frustrated with your ability to carry out his work now that the humans have created more cures.”
An angry noise rattled from deep within Cancer, for it was Cancer with whom Life spoke, but Cancer said nothing.
Life continued, “We have been discussing the possibility of you doing some work for me as well as for Death, and tonight I need to talk to you about that before you complete the task alloted to you by Death. Tonight your task is changed.”
“I don’t understand”, said Cancer. “Death wants me to pass my gift to the man you see at the end of the alley there. I cannot change that.”
“That I know”, said Life. “I have spoken with Death of just that man. At birth that man was given the ability to see life, to live life to the full, and to help others to achieve the same. He has squandered that gift, but I wish to give him another chance to use it.”
“I don’t see how that involves me”, replied cancer. “I give cancer, I don’t give life!”
“Yes, I know”, said Life softly, “but the humans have found more and more cures for your gift, so that you are less and less successful in achieving Death’s grim order and you simply disrupt mine. For this reason Death and I have formed a new partnership in which you will use your talent sometimes to achieve his ends and sometimes to achieve mine.”
“I still don’t understand”. replied Cancer, for in truth he was not blessed with insight and had rarely had the need for reflection on his dark professional achievements, deriving satisfaction as he had from the grief and confusion of the humans with whom he shared his gifts.
“Then let me explain”, continued Life. “At one time your gifts achieved Death’s goals because they were always fatal, but that is no longer true, and your work increasingly fails him. If human projections are correct then the day will come when your gifts no longer cause them fear because they will all be curable. When that time comes you will be of no use at all to Death and will, yourself, wither and die just as you have caused so many humans to do throughout history. In the meantime you can serve me by using your gift to cause humans I select to have an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of existence and learn to appreciate Life and all that Life has given them. Instead of giving these humans one of your gifts which is fatal I will want you to give them one which is sometimes curable. Now do you understand?”
“I think so”, replied Cancer. “You want me to be selective in my gift giving. To give so that Death does not always receive my victims.”
“Just so:, replied Life, “Just so.”
“But, I can still use my gift to cause fear and suffering amongst these mortals, for it is upon these emotions that I feed?”
“Oh, yes”, replied Life, for what would life be without the chance to overcome fear and suffering?”

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