Mostly. All things considered, and as a stage IV (terminal) lung cancer patient, it’s impossible – for me, to not consider all things.
What I’m considering in this column is how – and why – I typically respond to well-meaning inquiries regarding my health. Generally speaking, I’m not going to give any in-depth answers to most people who ask. I am happy to provide a relatively curt, but courteous answer. I’m not inclined (nor do I feel the need) to give any unsuspecting – or even a suspecting and sincere questioner, both barrels: diagnosis, prognosis, appointments, scan results, treatment protocol, etc. It’s “T.M.I.” It’s not that I’m uncomfortable or even unwilling – or unable to respond in this kind of detail, it’s more that I’m unenthusiastic. I’d really rather, unless compelled by a particularly persistent person, to not bother/bore anybody with chapter and verse about how I got to where I am. It’s not exactly that I don’t feel it’s anybody’s business (obviously I do, given the content of my weekly column), it’s more that I’m selfish, sort of. My delusion is, the less I talk about having cancer, the less serious my circumstances are. It’s a reworked version of George Costanza’s advice to Jerry Seinfeld on how to beat a lie-detector test: “It’s not a lie, if you believe it.” If I don’t blather on about it (having cancer), it’s not that serious. Alternatively, the more I talk about it, the more believable it becomes and the more inevitable are the consequences. If I don’t give it life (by talking about it), perhaps it dies and I don’t.
Don’t get me wrong, I will talk about having cancer (I certainly write about it enough), but it doesn’t really bring me the kind of joy that most opportunities to talk about oneself generally do. Oh sure, I have a pretty good story to tell; having outlived my original prognosis by years, but perhaps the less said, the better. Sometimes I feel as if I’m flying under the radar and the fact that I was diagnosed with incurable, stage IV lung cancer in February, 2009 has slipped through the cracks somehow and been forgotten. To that end, as much as possible – in public, I try not to dwell on having cancer. I have it. Next. If I don’t publicize it, maybe I don’t hasten its apparently delayed effect.
There’s so much that goes on, psychologically – in my head, when it comes to having cancer. Accepting it is one thing – which I’ve done, but being victimized by it is quite another and something I will not allow. Of course I have some physical issues that prevent me living a “normal” life, but I view them more as opportunities to make the best of a bad situation rather than making the worst of it. Where’s the future in that? There isn’t, at least in my strategic plan. And though I joke about pretending and being in denial about having cancer; the truth is, I’m quite comfortable with my circumstances – and my attitude. I really am “fine” with all of it.
Sometimes, most times in fact, I’d simply rather not talk about it. I’d rather talk about something else, anything else. It’s actually therapeutic to do so. Thanks for asking though, but not for the reason you might think. Oddly enough, though it’s a question I realize will be asked, as often as not, it provides me an opportunity to give an answer that you might not expect: it’s not always about me, and it shouldn’t be, in spite of my circumstances. Life goes on – for all of us, and that’s what interests me.
Kenny Lourie is an Advertising Representative for The Potomac Almanac & The Connection Newspapers