Diary Entry

My Cancer on Lockdown

Nancy K. Miller

For a long time, I’ve been living with cancer,  lung cancer to be exact. This is in fact year 8. I had more or less come to terms with my anxious scan-to-scan existence, when the Coronavirus pierced our common world with its spikes. Suddenly, I had entered a new category: “elderly person with an underlying health condition.” In addition to my being an elderly person living with cancer (in New York, no less, the epicenter), thanks to the state of my lungs, I then (that is now) became a walking target for the virus. If infected, I’d for sure be a fatal statistic. Decades ago, I described the burdensome compulsion to self-identify with a category. Speaking “as a”…, fill in the blanks. The “as a” specifics were a way to ward off the universalizing “I,” a corrective to the overreach of dominant pronouns. It has been strange to recognize myself under a new label, the category of the most vulnerable humans to the ravages of Covid-19: I’m having to identify “as”—and with—elderly persons with underlying health issues. (Issues.) Naturally, I’m not alone in this cohort. That’s the whole point. But is this the club to which I’d like to belong? Not really (Groucho Marx has nailed that one). And yet, in lockdown, I am.  

Nancy K. Miller. Diary

Welcome. Some musings on my current preoccupations with the worlds of illness and the worlds of books, the vicissitudes of living with cancer and the need now, in my eighties, to imagine what new writing might be. 

View Diary posts related to the My Multifocal Life project.