Column: Health Matters More

Column: Health Matters More


Kenneth B. Lourie

I realize money doesn’t buy happiness, although I wouldn’t mind renting it. Still, having money rather than not having it can’t be all bad. And I can definitely appreciate how not worrying about it can contribute to a potentially less stressful, above-average quality of life, generally speaking (I’m well aware that if you don’t have your health, you don’t have nearly as much; don’t I know it!). And though there are no guarantees in life, other than death and taxes, as the old saying goes; being able to say “yes” should be easier than saying “no” when all is said and done. And when all is not yet “said and done,” and there are health issues which intersect with dollars and sense, the conflict can exacerbate an already difficult situation. Unfortunately, the two are not mutually exclusive, and one can experience both – simultaneously.

Being a “terminal” cancer patient hardly improves this situation, regardless of what is said or done. Somehow, somewhere, one has to find stress-relievers and mind-occupiers. If that release involves money, I’ll just have to live with the consequences of my inaction. Although having rather than having not is a much better alternative, navigating without has not been an impossible task. Hopefully, I’m mature enough to take the good and dispose of the bad and use it to strengthen my resolve, not weaken it. Because no one, as my mother was fond of saying, “gets out of this life alive,” and leaving a path of inappropriate behavior in your wake is likely not the road to find out (Cat Stevens).

But I’m not, necessarily, as I live and breathe, on any sort OF road to find out. I’m more on a path of least resistance. I’m trying to accentuate the positive and minimize the negative and put stress in my rear view window (yes, I still drive; I’m fine, mostly). However, there are impediments and obstacles to such blissful ignorance; I mean, happiness. Regular appointments with an oncologist and visits (I use that word loosely) to the Infusion Center every three weeks for chemotherapy tend to muddle that happiness, naive or otherwise. In addition, when nos get in the way of yeses, the benefits are less obvious. As much as I’d like to be a sport, I have less recourse now than I ever have and fewer alternatives to compensate for a potentially abbreviated pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. It’s not as if I’m unable to provide for myself and my family, however; it’s more that in so doing, I feel as if I’m inadvertently giving in to the pressure and making worse an already difficult-to-mange situation: stage IV, non-small cell lung cancer, which my oncologist originally characterized as “treatable but not curable;” try processing that when you’re age 54 and you’ve just buried your widowed mother. Still, six-plus years post-diagnosis, maybe I’m here to stay?

Who knows, really? If I had fewer “normal” things on my mind, perhaps cancer and its devastating effect would be more on my mind? Which I wouldn’t see as a positive. Actually, I would: I’m positive the effect would be negative. Maybe the fact that I’ve tried to maintain my status quo and not impose a “bucket list”/artificial deadline on myself has enabled me to stay in the game longer than was initially “prognosed.” And I am extraordinarily lucky; I just wish that sometimes, the game came with fewer expenses.

Kenny Lourie is an Advertising Representative for The Potomac Almanac & The Connection Newspapers.