There are stories within stories …
And that is very true of the Quest where every year the story of the Quest tells another story, an allegory where the fight against the Unweaver and his minions becomes a fight against cancer, and the many forms of the disease.
We say that the words that are the worst to hear are “You have cancer”. But they’re really not. Worse than that is when the physician says, “Your child has cancer.”
And then you know that the most precious person in your life must go through the dark and painful path that leads to health … at an age when they may not even understand. When you have to find an answer to the question, “Why, Mummy? Why, Daddy?” and when they beg you to make it stop, make it go away, and you are overwhelmed by powerlessness.
Every year at the Faire, we create a Quest that is great fun to do and gives great rewards. But we also want people to think a little more deeply, to reflect on the issues that are part of cancer, or being a survivor or a caregiver. And this year, we wanted to make people think about some of the issues of childhood cancer.
So we have a child who falls into the grip of the Unweaver, our metaphor for cancer. And his parents, his whole family are frantic. They want to do whatever they can. In the context of our story, the mother desperately researches everything that she can lay her hands on. The father rides out in an attempt to fight the cancer at its source.
But – and this is the core metaphor – they can’t do it alone. They need advice – the sort that they can get from the American Cancer Society and other societies around the world – and we have a character in our Quest whose role is to give advice – although Planty is definitely rather more eccentric than the ACS!
And those parents need support from ordinary people. People who put money in a tin or – in Second Life – Lindens in a kiosk. People who organise events, run relays, bake cakes … do all those amazing things to raise money, bit by bit … so that one day, when the physician says – “Your child has cancer”, it will mean very little more than hearing, “Your child has chicken pox.”