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Column: Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered

I think about it enough, I don’t want to think about it too much. What’s “it?” Cancer. That’s what!

Given the undeniable fact (although I try) that I do have cancer – the terminal kind, and therefore have to deal with its all-consuming, underlying, overriding and everywhere-in-between effects, mental and otherwise, there are plenty of times during the day when I’d prefer the subject not be front and center, but rather back and off to the side. At night, too. Apparently, I can’t stop what I think about when I sleep any more than I can control what I think about every night as I lie in bed trying to get to sleep, so I’d sure like to have some moments during the day – when I’m awake and living what appears to be a relatively normal life, when I need not be reminded of the rather unfortunate set of circumstances in which I find myself medically entangled and emotionally wrought.

Though I may have learned long ago that “Da Nile is more than just a river in Egypt,” dwelling on the present facts as they are accounted for and on my fate that may very well be accompli, doesn’t seem particularly helpful or beneficial. Pretending, denying, ignoring, deluding, accepting, all add up to the identical emotional toll: wearisome and worrisome, if you let it. Not that one can avoid it entirely (if at all); let’s face it, being diagnosed with terminal stage IV lung cancer is hardly the stuff of dreams – more like nightmares. Nevertheless, there are choices to be made.

From my perspective, the high road (and no, I have not been prescribed medical marijuana) means trying to remain positive, where good humor and an even better disposition trumps the low road: negative, depressed, self-indulgent and miserable. Where’s the future in that? (Heck, where’s the present?) There isn’t – in my opinion. If my behavior/attitude causes people to not want to be around me, then I probably won’t be around long myself – or with others. But if I can somehow be a semi-breath of fresh air, not a gloomy Gus or a dismal Jimmy, perhaps I’ve earned, so to speak, the time that has not been promised to me.

Not that this strategy for my survival has been culled from any wise man’s book of survival. Hardly. It’s simply yours truly using some common sense and what personality and instincts I have, together, to make the best of a bad situation. My thinking is, if I don’t lose any of these emotional-type skirmishes, maybe I won’t lose the battle royal. Not that I see surviving cancer as a battle of good over evil or might vs. right – or wrong; I still want to act like I’ve been there, like it’s not my first touchdown. Sure I want to win/live, but sometimes, the less said about it, the better. I won’t mind really. In fact, as this column has attempted to say, I’d almost prefer it. From my perspective, I see nothing wrong with that! Besides it’s very difficult to tell a terminal patient how to live their life. I don’t mind if you try, but don’t take it personally if you fail. Thanks for your understanding.