‘Professional patients’ need tough love

Perhaps it is because it has been more than nine years now since the doctor came in and told a perfectly healthy me, who had no reason to suspect it, that “Your biopsy tested positive. It was cancer.”

Perhaps it is because, as someone told me at the time, this would one day seem like a bad memory of someone else’s nightmare — and that day has come.

Perhaps it is because I am, as I have been accused of being on the EC (esophageal cancer) Forum, insensitive, arrogant, and — you fill in the blank. (But I can produce plenty of people who don’t think I am.)

Perhaps it is because I have learned that life, in this realm, is not fair, and we should not expect it to be. And that there are worse diseases than cancer, from which you generally either die or recover, within a reasonable amount of time. That even people who die from cancer have a chance to say goodbye, to say I love you, to make amends, to see a Hawaiian volcano.

Those chances are not afforded to a person who dies from a massive coronary, or a massive car wreck. The chance to either say goodbye, or recover, is not afforded to the sufferer of other diseases which sap your strength while leaving your mind intact, or, perhaps worse, take one’s mind and leave the body strong.

Perhaps it is for those reasons that I sometimes get on the EC forum and tell the “professional patients,” as I call them, to stiffen it up. This is not always well received.

That I bicycle long distances, and swim long distances, and marvel at the feeling of being underwater, and gape in awe at the chance to hike up a mountain, and try not to let any of life’s little miracles pass me by.

I do not mean to come off arrogant, as I have been accused of on this chatroom, for appreciating the fact that I was able to regain my strength and health. You, too, though my readers are probably not on this chatroom, you probably know someone who is a “professional patient.” Perhaps not form cancer, but from some other disease.

Try, if you value them, to wake them up before they drown in their own self pity. In my own circle of trust are some adults, and even some children, who maintain a powerful impact in the face of unreal challenges.

They know, I suspect, that they must make of this life what they will, not bemoan what they have not.

Lance Armstrong popularized the phrase “Carpe Deim”— “ Sieze the Day.” How appropriate.

I am not much into wearing tattoos, but on the passing of my ninth year cancer-free, I got the two Japanese characters for “courage” tattooed on my right shoulder, a small but permanent reminder of one of life’s essentials.