This kitten was found abandoned after Superstorm Sandy, but has been adopted. Yay. (Richard Drew/Associated Press) This kitten was found abandoned after Superstorm Sandy but has been adopted. Yay. (Richard Drew/Associated Press)

Michael Gerson’s extraordinary column on his recent fight with cancer is a sharp reminder of many things. One, that he has a wonderful way of capturing the human soul in words. He calls the heightened attention to the world around him he experiences when threatened with death as a dialing up of “a contrast knob.” He traces the tumor back decades to when he felt his life was just beginning. And he describes beautifully how fiercely you live when you remember you will die. Just read it. We are all, even opinion columnists, sacks of meat with a sell-by date.

And, amazingly enough, so are commenters. Some of that meat is heart.


I love your writing, Michael. You have a gift. You are a gift.


Having insurance does not guarantee an early diagnosis. I lost my spouse five months ago after several doctors kept ordering the same test over and over only to find nothing. Turns out they were all looking in the wrong place. Once he was correctly diagnosed, it was too late. He died twenty two days later. Without insurance I would have lost everything we had worked for our entire working lives. Even with my still broken heart I know there are many worse off than me.
I wish you the least amount of suffering, Mr. Gerson.


My Gerson, you and I are on different ends of the political spectrum, but I’ve always admired your thoughtfulness and eloquent writing. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Mind you, we are sacks of meat here to argue politics. Some commenters saw no reason to call a truce — arguing that this is what the health-care argument has always been about:


A cancer diagnosis is a scary thing. It’s a good thing you had health care coverage, isn’t it, Mr. Gerson?

And the “clarity of mortality” you experienced — the acute vision, the sharp awareness of details. Would you like to imagine that “clarity of mortality” being combined with the knowledge that there isn’t anything that can be done for you because your lack of insurance meant you couldn’t get that odd twinge checked out, before the tumor metastasized?

But no, that didn’t happen — you have good health care coverage, and your cancer was discovered in good time. And treated. Lucky you. Now clutch that luck to your bosom and deny it to others, Mr. Gerson. Let them die.

lance_monotone, who actually seems very expressive, finds Gerson’s peace and contentment an affront to those who don’t have those things:

Why on earth was this column written? Is this a nose-thumb to the uninsured? As others have said, good for you, Mr. Gerson, for having quality health insurance that allowed you to successfully battle your cancer. After reading this column, I despise you even more for advocating that millions of Americans should die from theirs. You’re a hypocrite of the worst order.

bbface212 responded directly:

The fact that you can’t see the humanity of someone who has a different point of view, THAT’S despicable.

But Autumn of Solace steals the comments section with a few bleak thoughts:

I am sorry for your misfortune. I too ponder my own mortality all the time. Is it worth it to endure all those endless series of slings and arrows of life just to experience those very few sporadic moments of joy and contentment? More often than not, after weighing the pros and cons, the answer I came up with is no: Life just isn’t worth it. Many days I do envy the dead.

Hey, Autumn of Solace. You have something the dead envy. It is still possible for you to change and for life to surprise you. Seek joy. The dead can’t. PostScript would hug you right now, so long and hard that you’d be creeped out. Cause she’s a big weird sack of meat.