The C Word
There is a certain stigma around the C word, often accompanied by morbid curiosity. Most people think that it will never happen to them, but they may know someone going through the process. When you get diagnosed, it is likely to turn your whole life upside down. Ever since I've been tagged with the C word, I've been rethinking my life, how I interact with people, and how they react to me. Even when I get through this it will have changed me permanently, and I'm trying to explore some of this in my blog.
No, I'm not talking about cancer, although there may be some interesting comparisons. Looking at the American Cancer Societies' Cancer Facts and Figures, 2012, I find that are expected to be 1.6 million new cases of cancer this year in the United States. Looking at data from the Center for Disease Control, I find that the chances of getting cancer are greater for black people than for white people. But I'm looking at something much more rare.
According to Wikipedia, there are 7,382 State Legislators in the United States. If each race had two candidates and each legislator held office for two years, that would mean 14,764 every two years. Given that some terms are longer than two years, and some offices are uncontested, that number may be on the high side.
Doing the math, the numbers become stark. You are 100 more times likely to develop cancer than you are to become a candidate for State Legislature. In addition, I suspect the cases of candidacy are likely to be tied closely to certain risky behaviors. Most candidates start off by registering to vote. They proceed to regular voting, working on other people's campaigns, and perhaps even dabbling in politics at the local level.
Except for states where there are term limits, successful candidates tend to relapse quite regularly. My opponent for State Representative has relapsed into being a candidate seven times.
Unlike cancer, which disproportionately affects black people, candidacy appears to affect more white people. In the past, I've looked at the correlation between voting and health outcomes, and found that counties with higher voter turnout rates also tend to better health outcomes. The same may also apply to ethnicities in terms of candidacies and cancer rates.
Fortunately, candidacy is rarely fatal, and the stigma of candidacy is generally less than the stigma of cancer, although as Congressional approval ratings fall, and as more cancer survivors challenge the stigmas of cancer, this may be changing.
So, here I am grappling with my candidacy. More on how it changes lives later.