Because of the change in some of our publication deadlines for December, I have had to write multiple columns weeks in advance, somewhat unusual for me. Typically, I write my column five days before publication, so time-wise, I’m fairly current and emotionally present as well. Writing ahead, as December dead-lines (it’s nothing new. I’ve been managing to accommodate these deadlines for years) is still a bit off-putting. Though I want to think ahead and live like I have a future; as a cancer patient, it’s difficult not to live in the present. Thinking, feeling, projecting ahead, seems presumptuous almost.
This is not to imply that I have to somehow presume a future and write about cancer subjects — or not, which have not yet happened. Hardly. My columns are rarely time-sensitive or date-specific. Still, my columns are generally better written when I’m writing from current feelings, facts, circumstances, etc. And though many of the feelings, facts and circumstances relating to my condition don’t exactly change on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis (thank God!), surprisingly, my reaction to them sometimes does. Moreover, writing multiple columns at one time also forces me to pile onto myself emotionally the effects of my disease. Which, if you must know, I’d rather not do. In fact, if there’s any way I can not think about my situation, that’s a ‘way’ I’d like to be.
Not that I moan and groan or woe is me about my age 54-and-half-terminal-diagnosis, as those who know me or have regularly read my columns likewise know; but sometimes I’d prefer not to have my hand forced. And even though reading or hearing about other people who have been diagnosed with lung cancer, or who have succumbed to its ravages, doesn’t bother me — too much, really (I’ve matured); occasionally, I’d rather be blissfully ignorant.
Although I readily admit that being ignorant too long concerning my disease is hardly penny-wise but it is most definitely pound-foolish. The trick is, somehow not getting consumed by one’s circumstances and maintaining an optimistic point of view. And since I’m a funny guy (though not really fun), I am able to humor myself — and others, so these less-than-ideal circumstances under which I attempt to thrive are not overwhelming, except when forced to confront my demons and focus on myself when newspaper deadlines are advanced and jumbled and I’m having to write four columns in two weeks instead of writing one column in one week.
Though it’s not exactly trouble, it is to quote Jerry Seinfeld from a long-ago Seinfeld episode, “something.” ‘Something’ I could likely live without, but ‘something’ unfortunately I must live with, every December. But I’m a “big boy,” as my father used to tell me, with “broad shoulders” (figuratively speaking to my ability to handle the load), so I’ll manage. In fact, in another paragraph, I will have completed the task and the presumptive weight of it will be off my ‘broad shoulders.’
Now I can relax a little bit, exactly what one (especially this one with cancer) needs. Between the holidays and advanced deadlines, the column-writing and the ad-selling; I’m living and learning with my ever-evolving circumstances (further from the beginning or closer to the end; I never know).
Nevertheless, I am extremely happy to have been there and finished doing it yet again. I hope to see you all back here next year. Happy Holidays!