“My cancer is my Siberia” (93), Terry Tempest Williams’ mother concluded. In her memoir, Refuge, Terry Tempest Williams writes about her mother’s struggle with cancer. Williams’ mother comes to conclude that cancer is her Siberia after having read Tolstoy’s inspiring novel, God sees the truth, but Waits about an innocent man falsely accused of murder and sent to a prison in Siberia. I think of Siberia as bitter cold deserted tundra region. I imagine political prisoners and prison camps. Stalin’s oppressive regime lingers in my mind and a stench of death circulates the air. Similarly, I think of cancer as death and pain. Paradoxically, besides causing pain and death, Siberia and cancer lead their victims towards a place of discovery.
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It spreads over one tenth of the worlds’ habitable space. The northern part of Siberia lies within the Tundra desert region with permanently frozen ground and little vegetation. The southern part of Siberia is more fertile and arable with more vegetation that gives Siberia a more picturesque image. The prevailing image of Siberia as hostile with severe winters is derived from the climate of the Northern region. Whilst traveling in the north region of Siberia, George Kennna author of Siberia-The Exiles’ Abode observed that “the silence is as profound as death.” Death and cancer are indistinguishable. In my opinion, cancer patients receive the death threat pill as part of their prescription and thus are psychologically abused.
“I feel abused,” Williams’ mother said, after a radiation because she felt as though “technicians had turned [her] body into their bull’s eye.” Williams’ mother’s frustration is similar to Siberia’s frustration with its colonizers, the Russian State. Initially, the Russian state set out to conquer Siberia in order to exploit its natural resources. Siberia had easily accessible fur that was as precious as gold and silver. Even though Russians viewed Siberia as deserted frozen Tundra, it was nonetheless a land waiting to be exploited. The Russian state colonized Siberia solely for its economic resources. When the fur industry eroded, the image of Siberia shifted from being the economic power-house to being a “place of exile” for