Friday, March 12, 2010

Contemplating Fairness

The concept of fairness has been very much on my mind this week.

Really it’s been on my mind off and on since my diagnosis six years ago. Mostly, I have thought about fairness in terms of “why me?” Being chronically ill is so unfair to me, to my husband, to my children, and to my family and my friends, too.

But the fact of the matter is many things in life are unfair. Bad things happen to good people. Unexplainable things happen to innocent children. People face adversity. People face day to day struggles.

Last weekend, I got together for dinner with some friends from college. I gave them a brief update on my health. Sometimes I do not like to talk about it in much detail because I don’t want to be a downer. I’d much rather just eat, drink, talk, and laugh.

After wrapping up an enjoyable evening with hugs and goodbyes, one friend quietly said to me, “It just doesn’t seem fair.” The comment actually took me by surprise a bit. “No, no it doesn’t,” I replied with just a hint of tears forming in my eyes.

Although I sort of shrugged off her comment, it stuck with me all week long.

And she is right. It doesn’t seem fair. But really, am I the only one in this group of friends being dealt an “unfair” card?


Another friend with us that night shared her triumph of having just completed her last radiation treatment for one cancer cell found in her breast. Another, who will have her first baby at age 43, had just been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. She also has been ordered on bed rest for other complications related to her pregnancy. A third friend who could not be with us for dinner that night due to suffering a bout of pneumonia is in the midst of divorce proceedings.

These bad things are happening to very good people. Is it fair? No. Can it be explained? Not by me.

Ironically, fairness was the Character Counts topic at my kids’ school this week. To a kid, fairness seems so simple - Take turns. Share. Play by the rules. Listen to what others have to say. Treat people how you would like to be treated. Keep an open mind and be reasonable. Consider other people’s feelings. Fairness does not mean equal, but that each person gets what they need.

Hmmm, sounds so easy. Not really. For me, perhaps one of the most difficult things about fairness is simply accepting the fact that life is not fair. It’s trying to move on from “why me?” to “why not me?”

I’m not there yet.


  1. Hi, Suzanne,
    Found your blog tonight... Thanks for writing. We have a lot in common... I'm 40, 2 young boys, with scleroderma lung disease. I will be following your blog and hoping for the best for both of us!

  2. Hi Suzanne,

    I keep coming back to the inevitable conclusion that the universe operates without regard for little old us. It's nothing personal but we're bound to get dumped on. We live on a planet with vast tracks that can't sustain human life. We're contending with other people and critters, including diseases, for survival. So I guess the real miracle is that we survive at all. After the earthquake in Haiti, people had to to undergo amputations without any anesthesia. Not fair at all. So, whether it seems like it, we in North America may be some of the luckiest people on earth.