Posted on: September 15, 2009 3:21 pm
I've received a lot of feedback about my Larry Eustachy column , almost all of it nice. But there is one quote from Eustachy with which some have taken issue, and it's the one where he said, "Would you laugh at somebody who is battling cancer? Because that's what it is. It's a disease. "
Some of you have decided it's crazy to compare alcoholism to cancer.
Others refuse to believe alcoholism is a disease at all.
That's your right, I guess. But it's worth noting that Eustachy expected this reaction, which is why he said he knew some would read the column and say, "That Eustachy is so full of sh-t. " In other words, you're not surprising Larry Eustachy; he's heard it all before. And though I see no point in debating whether alcoholism is as serious as cancer (or where it ranks in a group with MD and diabetes), I will say that anybody who doesn't believe alcoholism is a disease doesn't really understand alcoholism at all.
It is most definitely a gripping disease that destroys families and kills people everyday. And that it can, in some cases, be brought on by poor decisions or a lack of self-control shouldn't matter much, because a first cigarette can be what leads to lung cancer just like one night of unprotected sex can be what leads to HIV just like daily trips to the local hamburger joint can be what leads to a heart attack, but we don't laugh at people with lung cancer or HIV, and we don't mock heart attacks, do we? And really, that was Eustachy's point, that though a person's role in his fight with alcoholism cannot always be excused, there is no debating that alcoholism is a serious disease just like cancer is a serious disease.
Hopefully, that makes some sense to you.
But if you're still not convinced, I'll direct you to an email I got from a reader this morning, an email from a man who has battled both cancer and addiction. In part, it read: "As someone who has recovered -- so far -- from a bout with cancer, and has been clean and sober from a cocaine addiction for 26 1/2 years, I know the parallels are there, and that alcoholism is indeed a most deadly, and misunderstood disease. "
So if you don't want to believe Larry Eustachy, don't believe Larry Eustachy.
And if you don't want to believe me, don't believe me.
But that email came from a man who understands both cancer and addiction better than you probably understand cancer and addiction, and I'm not sure how anybody who has never experienced either could possibly argue with him.