Michael KreponChemical Warfare that Saves Lives

Quotes of the week:

“Be here, now!”  — Ram Dass

“Be here now. Be somewhere else later. Is that so complicated?” — David Bader

Dear ACW Readers,

In 2007, large B cell lymphoma came to call. With the help of chemotherapy, I was granted bonus time. I thought I was in the clear, but no: large B cell lymphoma made a return visit ten years after its initial appearance. Another close encounter with chemo. This time around, the cocktails were refined and again my body recovered. Here I am, in remission once again, enjoying more bonus time.

You don’t “conquer” cancer any more than mountain climbers “conquer” Mount Everest or K2. If you are fortunate enough to survive these challenges, you are better off doing so with gratitude and humility. On March 14, 2014, I posted a shameless plug for an electronic book I wrote after my first encounter with lymphoma, life lessons: recovering from chemo and other serious illness. In the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, my little electronic book might be of help to those of you who are dealing with a dread disease, or those of you who know a loved one battling a dread disease. Here’s what I wrote earlier in this space:

Ironies abound. My work involves trying to prevent big explosions – something I’ve failed miserably at on the cellular level. I am a survivor of a stage-four lymphoma and Gleason nine prostate cancer. (For those not into medical numerology, these are bad numbers.) Long ago, my boss on Capitol Hill succeeded in blocking the U.S. Army from getting into the binary nerve gas business. Now I have joined the ranks of those who have benefited from a different kind of chemical warfare.

While in an altered state under the influence of chemotherapy, I wrote a slim book of axioms to help me get through these treatments, adding quotes from heavy hitters to give my axioms greater heft. If you are dealing with a serious health crisis or know someone who is, this little book might be of use.

For now, the book and the accompanying artwork is available only to those who use Apple products. It can be found at the iTunes store.

The sales hook: For the price of a get-well card, you can help yourself or someone you love get well.

Here’s a sample axiom:

Steer clear of self-doubt and the sympathy of others.

Dwelling in doubt is a poor substitute for hope in recovery. The sympathy of others corrodes hope. Sympathy is just another manifestation of ego: It is offered by those who mean well, but it’s an emotion that serves the needs of the sympathizer, not the person who seeks wellness. Your illness is about you, not the sympathizer. Ask clearly for support and prayer, not sympathy.

“Sympathy is easy to get, and it is not binding. ‘You have my sympathy,’ and inside we say, ‘and now let us move on to something else.’” — Albert Camus


  1. kme (History)

    The connection between chemotherapy and chemical weapons is more than just rhetorical – the first chemotherapy drugs were derived from mustard gas.

  2. anon2 (History)

    Good essay Prof. Krepon. I appreciate how in the middle of your battle you have time to contribute to arms control. Thank you.