Beauty and ugliness, Happiness and sadness

Elena’s response to my story about the “graveyard in the hospital” contained questions about the co-existence of beauty and ugliness, and do we try to deny the ugliness. It brought to mind a beautiful little entry in the book Cancer Under the Radar: Young Adults Tell Their Stories. One young man writes:

“Why are we preoccupied with eradicating sadness? 

Why do we think depression is abnormal:

I believe we need to live through difficult emotions like sadness in order to evolve. 

It’s part of growing up.”

Damon Hartung, 2010


I think this is a very interesting discussion – these two dichotomies of happiness/sadness and beauty/ugliness and would love to hear more discussion on the topic.


On a separate, but related note, I have spent more time reading  Cancer Under the Radar and I can’t recommend it highly enough. I had the chance to speak last week with Gwynneth Gorman, one of the staff at CanSupport in Montreal. She was involved in the development of the book, although it was truly driven by a a group of young people who saw a need to educate their peers and the medical community. The entries are as unique as the individuals and provide great insight into some of the issues that are specific to younger people dealing with cancer.  It is really a stunning book, each entry like a little breathtaking jewel.

I will post the information for ordering as soon as possible.



One thought on “Beauty and ugliness, Happiness and sadness

  1. Pat says:

    Hi Sam,

    I was intrigued by the questions Damon Hartung raised. There is value in recognizing depression can be normal (which does not in any way diminish how difficult it can be to live through it).

    Depression is a vast topic and people can have depressive episodes rangeing from mild to severely crippling. The American Psychiatric Association describes/defines major depression in their DSM – Diagnostic & Statistical Manual – identifying it as pathological (not that this has lead to treatments with relatively assured outcomes).

    Disease is normal. Depression is normal. Some grow from the experience of working through it. Others need help/support and may or may not work through it/evolve. It seems to me your blog is providing the type of support that some will benefit from. Keep it up!

    Cheers – a tongue in cheek closing -,

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