A Meditation on Radiation

 

I am now almost certain that we need more radiation for better health. - John Cameron

 

Without radiation from the sun, our space-rock home would be unimaginably cold (think absolute zero on the surface).

No plants. No liquid water. No breathable air.

No us.

But stoke the fire on our sun-star to just the right temperature and it emits precisely the amount of radiated energy needed to perform one of the coolest magic tricks in the known universe right here on the outer layer of this tiny blue-green sphere...

Us.

As natural born magicians, somewhere along the way we learned to create radiation for ourselves. We discovered that by moderating the amount of energy we fire at one another, we could create miraculous benefits or indescribable damage. In tiny amounts, we get radio and GPS. In larger doses our cells vaporize in nuclear explosions

And somewhere just above the setting that gives us microwave ovens, we've found a level that if aimed more or less into our tumors, ruins reproduction for the runaway cells without completely destroying healthy ones and killing us. How ironic that some cancer cells trace their missing self-control to the accumulated damage that accrues throughout our lifetimes from our environment including...of course...from radiation.

It is both our most fundamental lifeforce and our destroyer. Our Birth Mother and our Slayer. And in modern radiation therapy -- for ever so briefly -- it can also be our Healer.

Yet for whatever good radiation does in helping to rid our body of seemingly immortal and malevolent cancer cells, it asks for a great deal in return. Hair, memory, immunity, appetite, strength and vitality must all be offered in sacrifice to receive a temporary reprieve from nature's ultimate Master Force. 

As any cancer patient who has been treated with it can tell you, radiation is a perfect synthesis of good and evil.