Cancer is perhaps the iconic disease of our time. Everyone knows and loves—or has known and loved—someone stricken. It gets people of every age: people who have done bad things to their bodies and people who have not. It can kill quickly, slowly, or not at all. Because it takes so many forms, it’s something that everyone can relate to but that no one completely understands. And thus it’s particularly easy to exploit and to wrap in mythology. If you’ve created a character, you can give him cancer and then declare that almost anything else happened next. There are real stories about young boys dying, college-age women dying, and adults surviving to bicycle competitively again. The reality of all these other tales is what makes these three hoaxes so pernicious: they all cheapen something profound. And they all make me very angry.

“Livestrong, For Real” by Nicholas Thompson on The New Yorker’s News Desk (via nprfreshair)