Sunday, 11 December 2011

Oh dear

The other night I went to bed and started to read 'Anticancer', a book by a man called David Servan-Schreiber, who was diagnosed with brain cancer and managed to ward it off via chemotherapy and good nutrition and exercise. I mentioned the book earlier in this blog, when I made a made a list of necessary chemo kit. I love the book because I feel slightly in control of my health; I feel that I have a say in how this cancer affects me. Thus, I flit in and out of it, reading it whenever I feel that I have forgotten its basic tenets, or just because...

In the midst of my reading the other night however, I wondered what Dr Servan-Schreiber was up to, so I googled his name. Mistake. As it turns out, the brain cancer which had attacked him initially at the very young age of 31, finally did its job on its third recurrence just July this year, when he was 50. I felt bereft; the cancer finally won in the end.

I started to compute: if I live another 20 years, eldest son C will be 33 and the twins will be 31. I know this sounds terribly morose, but the funny thing is, the thought of death doesn't scare me now. It's the thought of leaving too soon that bothers me. I continued to compute: 10 years from now? Nope, they'll still be too young and they'll still need me. And on and on. And as a consequence, I slept very badly that night, thinking and thinking of the consequences of me going at every possible age.

I'm scared because I don't want to die just yet. I know that it isn't necessarily going to be cancer that will claim me in the end - I could get run over by a bus for all I know! But I just feel so much more vulnerable now. I suppose I was almost smug before, with my healthy no smoking, no drinking, organic, manic exercise lifestyle.

I know there's no point in worrying about it; after all, there's nothing much I can do. However I cannot help it - surely this is normal? In the meantime, I suppose I should just follow Dr S-S' lifestyle suggestions and hope that I get at least another 20 years by following his lead.


  1. I know whereof you speak!

    Every single time someone in the vast network of breast cancer survivors breathes their last, I reflexively think, "When is my turn?!" Death and dying must come surely. Hopefully later rather than sooner.

    I got over my paroxysms of grief when I saw the children and husbands of friends who went on ahead, grow up and move on. It made me feel so good knowing that as much as I am irreplaceable, my son and husband will carry on without me should I keel over and die this very minute. But meanwhile, I am alive and instead of counting the years --- the numbers seem so paltry 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?--- I now number my time in terms of days 365 days? 1,825 days? 3,650 days? 7,300 days? Or as the song goes

    "...525,600 minutes - how do you measure,
    measure a year? In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee. In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife. In 525,600 minutes - how do you measure a year in the life?".

    That's a whole lot of minutes and days, a whole lot of moments. I feel wealthy just looking at those numbers! Don't you?


  2. you say...none of us know how long...I remember walking down Byres Road in Glasgow with a cameraman friend John and we were witnessing a wonderful sunset...and he mentioned that we may only have ten thousand sunsets left, so we should enjoy each one we that is why weird uncle Marc sometimes just stops and looks at the sky and the world...why not!
    Be happy, be well.

  3. Mimi, Mark, thank you SO MUCH for your lovely comments. When I'm feeling a bit down, I shall read them again and again!