Metastasis Contributor Interview: Michael S. Pack

Metastasis Cover - artwork by Jonathan Parrish, Cover design by Carol HightshoeMichael S. Pack’s short story, Unchanged, takes place in a future where there is a cure for cancer but as we all know, nothing is without consequences…

How has cancer touched your life?
In 2007, a routine x-ray for back pain found bone mets in my mother’s spine. The oncologists never identified a primary tumour, but the biopsy indicated breast cancer. With advanced metastasis, the doctors could offer little in the way of treatment. They gave her two years, but it spread faster than they had predicted. No radiation, no chemo, no surgery. She accepted nothing but palliative care. She passed away just after New Year’s of 2008.
When it comes to cancer, what gives you hope?
I don’t think we find meaning in our circumstances, but in our response to circumstance. It gives me hope to see the ways in which people choose to respond to cancer. You can’t stay neutral, even denial is a response. Every cancer survivor who finds the strength to persevere, every patient in treatment who perseveres even without strength, every family member that offers support, every community that holds a rally, runs a relay, spreads awareness — those offer me hope. When someone chooses to live their life in spite of the odds, whether from stubbornness or determination or force of will, that gives me hope. Every time someone finds the serenity to accept, that gives me hope. Cancer itself, it brings too much pain, too much suffering for me to find its value. The human reaction though, there’s value there. In the ways in which those responses are framed — by everyone who fights to live one more day, by everyone who comes to terms with mortality, by everyone who grieves for the time lost — those very human responses have meaning. They have value.
Not counting your own, which story or poem in Metastasis is your favourite?
That’s a tough question. I’ve read the anthology, and I’m impressed with all of the contributions. You’ve done a fantastic job putting together some really powerful pieces for Metastasis. If I had to choose just one though, I’d have to say Beth Cato’s poem, “Hunter”. It caught me a little off guard, and it spoke to me on an emotional level. It was beautiful, but also painful to read.
Michael S. Pack is a writer who grew up in the Deep South, but he now lives in northern British Columbia with his wife and three cats. He writes fantasy, science fiction, and other stories. Michael sometimes rambles on twitter @Michael_Pack and on https://www.facebook.com/M.Pack.Author where he posts updates about his stories. He is currently at work on a fantasy novel.

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