Superheroes and Childhood Cancer

My friend Jeff Brown posted on Facebook this morning that he was changing his profile picture to a superhero “for children’s cancer awareness”. Jeff chose Captain America. I chose Superman. I would encourage you to pick one and do the same.

Why do I jump so quickly when superheroes are involved and what does it have to do with childhood cancer? I’m not sure about the second, but I really believe in the power of superheroes in a child’s life. When I was a kid, I had a dream where Superman and Batman rescued me from a house and it changed my life because 1) I was worth saving and 2) important “people” cared about me and 3) Jungians would say that parts of my own psyche Batman (brains and the quest for justice) and Superman (honesty and strength) could get me out of unpleasant situations.

Superheroes do those things for children all the time. Once we believe that Superman or Batman or other superhero exists (“Of course they’re real!”, says the 10 year old) we can see ourselves in them. Then the “super” parts of us can develop for real as we feed them in our daily lives. To this day, I value  intelligence (Batman is published in “Detective” comics) and have a quest for justice in the world — not murder or killing (Batman never carries a gun) but justice. To this day, I like the sincerity and honesty and male strength of Superman as methods of coping with life. (Superman always used his powers for good, not for evil). To this day, I don’t believe that power or strength is a bad thing, but one must use their gifts for good and not for evil.

My sister’s band “Beebs and Her Moneymakers” say “We’re all superheroes.  We just have to discover our superpower!” Truer words were never spoken.

So why did I choose Superman? Those who know me, know that Batman is my favorite character of all time. Dark and brooding, serious and intelligent, Batman is a great character. I think, though, that kid with cancer see dark, brooding serious in their lives.

Many of the heroes in the Marvel universe have been weirdly effected by radiation — the fantastic four, Spider-Man, the Hulk and so on. I assume that kids with cancer don’t need to be reminded of the weird effects of radiation.

That leads me back to DC comics ( home of Batman and Superman). Superman is also weakened by radiation. (Kryptonite is radiated rock from his home world.) but earth’s natural radiation (the sun) makes him the man he’s supposed to be — Clark Kent with Superpowers– Superman! That is the message that I would want kids to get — that radiation or nature makes your best self shine.

There are many women superheroes  nowadays — Wonder Woman, the Amazon princess, Black Canary, who can stop criminals with her voice, Batwoman, the lesbian crimefighter,and Oracle, who used to be Batgirl until she was paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair and now does her work with computers.

All or any of those would be fine superheroes to emulate, depending on the child. But for me, I’ll take Superman.




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