In The Context Of …

Having cancer; not that you need to know how I think but, if you’re at all curious as to how a diagnosed as “terminal” stage IV, non-small cell lung cancer patient thinks, even now, nearly eight years out, read on.

As much as I don’t want to think about what I’m doing and why – and just live life as it comes/happens, a “13-month to two-year” prognosis (originally received on February 27, 2009; oh yeah, certain dates are seared into your memory), I can’t. It’s not necessarily a lifestyle change that occurs when you’re diagnosed, it’s more the psychological and emotional hold and affect the diagnosis causes. It permeates and subconsciously – or so it seems, infiltrates your brain and changes the way you think and feel. It’s not that you become unrecognizable to friends and family, but you definitely become a victim of your circumstances. It’s as if your brain is rewired somehow and you’ve reached your outer limits where you’ve lost more than the control of your television set.

To the point/example of what I’m referring to (finally) which precipitated this semi self indulgence: my car and certain repairs, expenses and warning lights which have illuminated, warranting attention after months of neglect. Specifically the car to which I refer is our “second” car, the one we don’t rely on for non-local trips: a model year 2000, Honda Accord sedan inherited from my widowed mother in December, 2008 – with only 35,000 miles on the odometer. The classic example of a retired person’s car with incredibly little wear and tear and extraordinarily low mileage given its put-in-service date: sometime in the year 2000.

As I said, it’s not our primary car, but it does get driven regularly given the potential mileage restraints of our ‘primary’ car’s lease. Currently, the Honda has 94,000 miles on it. It’s been a good and reliable car which has needed few repairs – other than those to-be-expected, the costs of which have generally fallen with the “usual and customary” range. The car still rides well and overall suits my requirements for a ‘second” car: it gets me from point “A” to point “B” – and most importantly, back, and it has no monthly car payment. However, there are a couple of inconveniences/concerns which if left alone are not likely deal-breakers but, the expense of fixing them – on a car that is nearly 17 years old, might be.

And the deal which might be broken has to do with yours truly having lung cancer and a somewhat different life expectancy now at age 62 (verses the one I thought I would have when I initially took possession of my parent’s car in 2008 – at age 54 and two months, or the one I thought I had a mere two and half months later – just before I was initially diagnosed). Ergo my dilemma is: do I want to spend major money now (for me/us) on repairs whose maximum benefit will not occur until next spring – six months or so, at the earliest, but if tended to now might limit the potential damage/cost later or shall I just wait for divine intervention, so to speak? (The repairs have to do with air conditioning that doesn’t cool in the summer, a window – on the passenger side which does not open all year round, and brake lights and the seat-belt restraining system – “SRS,” safety issues which this idiot is being warned about.)

Not unsolvable problems, presumably, unless you have a terminal form of cancer. Considering that reality, don’t I want to live more in the present and not worry about a future, a future which is hardly guaranteed? Moreover, shouldn’t I damn the torpedoes and live full speed ahead and let the chips: lab work, scan results, car repairs, etc., fall where they may; finding some normalcy/solace in pretending/deluding myself into thinking that all is right in my world? To be determined. Still, I know/feel one thing: if I live like I’m dying, I probably will.

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