Co- writer Brian Lobel // A Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer


My name is Brian Lobel and I’m a
performer, teacher and I’m the co-book writer for A Pacifist’s Guide to
the War on Cancer. I think the part of A Pacifist’s Guide
that is my fault is the fact that there is not going to be a
happy ending or a sad ending or any ending that we can think of I’ve been
really passionate from the beginning that so many cancer stories are obsessed
with whether a singular person lives or dies and it doesn’t give us a chance to
really reflect on what actually happens when one lives with cancer so I would
say that the lack of narrative clarity is in part my fault. I was a diagnosed with cancer in 2001,
started writing about it immediately not because I wanted to like become a
performer who made to work around cancer but because I wanted to chart my
experience with cancer entering this new world that felt really strange. And for
many years I felt guilty about still thinking about cancer when I didn’t have
it in my body but then I realized that people actually have to stay engaged
with this identity and with this topic which most people are focused on going
back to normal and I realized that there is no normal and I don’t and I I was
never normal to begin with but I certainly didn’t go back to being normal
so I wanted to stay engaged with it so my relationship with cancer is that I
write myself about my own experience with cancer, I facilitate other people’s
writing with cancer and I often serve as kind of an expert outside eye with people
who want to create work about cancer. My advice to people once they’re
diagnosed is just be gentle with themselves, you don’t need to be okay
tomorrow, you don’t need to be happy with your scars or your bald head tomorrow
you can be happy with them in a few months time. And you can allow yourself
to be sad for a little while I think it’s that you just need to be gentle
with yourself and not worry about being perfect immediately and knowing that
your body will get you there. The worst advice wasn’t advice as such
it was an action which was that everyone gave me a copy of Lance Armstrong’s
autobiography which in 2001 when I was sick with cancer was in the middle of
his he just won his fourth Tour de France when I had a very similar cancer
to him was treated at the same exact facility as him and everyone thought
that he would be a great role model for me. So the stupidest thing that people did was that they they presumed what I was
worried about and they presumed what would inspire me and when that happens
you feel not looked at as a person you get looked at as cancer.