Not until next year, anyway. Besides, there will be enough water gushing under that bridge, almost as much seen a few weeks back flowing onto the Oroville Spillway in Northern California. At least I hope so. Because if there’s no more ‘gushing,’ there’s likely no more, well; we don’t have to talk about that. Not talking and planning for one’s future is bad for a cancer patient’s business; self-fulfilling prophecy and all that presumptive karma. And with all the dos and don’ts and hopes and prayers in the cancer world, my general philosophy has been not to mess with Mother Nature, too much, if you know what I mean? I don’t necessarily believe in leaving well enough alone, but neither do I believe in poking the bear.
I mean, I acknowledge that I’m dying, but aren’t we all really? Reminiscent to a few years back when a former ESPN Sports anchor (Dan Patrick, I believe it was, now of NBC Sports) made famous a similar characterization concerning a ballplayer’s injury, when he said: “He’s listed as day to day, but then again, aren’t we all?” Oh yeah. A little perspective goes a long way, even a decade or so in arrears. I guess that’s what’s so enriching about reading. Unfortunately, reading is not fundamental for me, writing and listening is. And as with my unexpected non-small cell lung cancer diagnosis at age 54 and a half (lifelong non-smoker, no immediate family history of cancer or premature death; I know, any death is premature), I make the best of my situation and endeavor to strive to stay alive. I don’t dwell on the negative. Sure, I accept and understand my reality (maybe in some dispute, but not in my head though), but having been raised with a positive attitude by both my late parents, I am able to endure until science/medicine finds a cure. It’s not ideal, but it’s a living — thank God!
And even more so the day after chemotherapy, as I sit and write on Saturday, March 4. Reminded as I am of the situation I find myself living in and trying to learn from to cope and always hope. Somehow trying to find a way to continue to take cancer in stride while not hiding from the harsh realities that affect many cancer patients. Just as occasionally looking in the mirror is not a pretty sight, nor is droning on and being cancer-centric. Though I am mostly cancer-centric in my weekly column, I hope its contents provide enough context that it sheds some light on how one lives with a terminal disease rather than how that same one puts off death.
I don’t mean to imply that being diagnosed with cancer is akin to having a bad roommate where you can sort of close their bedroom door or try to ignore their comings and goings except as it concerns rent and utilities, but similar elements have to be enforced. ‘Enforced’ may be too strong a word. Maybe ingrained would be a better word? You have to own the responsibility of living with a terminal disease, but somehow try and not believe it. It sort of invokes the quote about minor surgery: “Minor surgery is someone else having it.” When it’s me having it, it’s major. Compartmentalizing one’s cancer diagnosis/prognosis is crucial to its acceptance. Obviously, it dominates your thinking and awareness, but it can’t be allowed to control it. You just hope when you peel away the emotional layers you impose to maintain an even/humorous keel (in my approach, anyway), it won’t resemble the damage seen on the Oroville Spillway.