I’m 57th on the hold list for When Breath Becomes Air, that book written by the insightful but dying doctor I was telling you about a few months back. I said I was too chicken to read it, but I’ve put myself in line anyhow. Maybe by the time it’s my turn, I won’t be as scared of what the dear dead doctor has to say.
Still, you’ll never catch me at the local Death Café, a monthly drop-in coffee house for people interested in talking about death. Thanks, but I’ll pass. I wonder if any of the attendees are sick like me. I think about dying enough; the last thing I need is to talk about it with a group of people who are death obsessed.
I’ve been thinking about cancer and death and all that fun stuff lately. A hospital stay reminds me how much I hate having cancer. A while back, my yoga teacher, Kathy, said something wise that stayed with me, as she often does. She suggested that even if we do everything we can to care for ourselves, we can’t be assured the outcome will be good. In other words, we may still get sick. Kathy probably noticed me nodding furiously from the cheap
I am one of those people who thought I had done almost everything I could to be well. I was far from perfect, and my self-care left something to be desired at points in my life, but over the years I’ve treated my body with respect. I exercised regularly from a young age, keeping myself fit if not always trim. I attended to what I ate. Fast food rarely touched these lips (but chocolate often did). I was never much of a drinker, even before Dr. Liver forbid it, and I never smoked or used drugs, except sometimes in my rebellious dreams.
Despite my caring for myself, I still got The Big C. A recent study reported 55% of cancers are preventable, but that does leave 45% that aren’t, doesn’t it? That means a lot of people with cancer simply have bad luck. I struggle with this notion sometimes. In fact, it makes me really mad.
Life is unfair. I try not to waste a lot of time stewing about this because it won’t change my situation and certainly doesn’t make me feel any better. In fact, it only makes me feel worse, and what’s the point in that? But all it takes is a hospital stay to bring the issue to the forefront.
I want to believe I have so much control over my life, but I’m constantly reminded that I don’t. As my control falters, my anxiety rises. Thank goodness I have J. to ground me when I feel myself spinning out of control. She reminds me that, whatever happens, there are two things I can control: my mood and my behaviour.
So what do I do? I eat well and sleep lots and hang with my family and do fun things like my taxes. (Just kidding; taxes are painful, but they need to be done.) And because I can control my behaviour, I’m going to skip the Death Café. That will undoubtedly improve my mood.