Monday, 9 December 2013

My Greatest Fear

For those of you that have been so kind as to read this, you may be expecting a typically clichéd fear. You know spiders, insects, height, et cetera. It would seem fitting to write about such topics with the 2013 series of ‘I’m a Celebrity’ having just drawn to a close. However, my fear is not something you can see, as such. It’s far greater than a dread of flying or being terrorised by crocodiles. This fear of mine is not one that I will ever be able to conquer in my lifetime I should assume, nor do I ever wish to have that opportunity. So here it is, my deepest secret revealed. What’s my greatest fear? Cancer.

It has occurred to me in recent weeks that this disease has claimed the lives of three of the four relatives whose funerals I have attended. The first of which was my grandfather who died when I was eight years old. My ambiguous recollection of him leaves but one clear image in my mind: him and his pipe. I guess you could assume it caught up on him. In the past six months I have lost another two relatives at the hands of cancer. They say it can be hereditary and that worries me. The thought of dying old gracefully does not scare me, but one mention of chemotherapy or finding a lump and I freak.

Cancer is so commercialised these days that it’s almost become the norm. Any successful soap will at some stage have incorporated cancer into its storyline and chosen a character to deal with the incurring predicament they are faced with. But how can any actor, no matter how talented, portray realistically the emotions of a cancer victim? Unless they have previously battled the disease and know first-hand what it entails I find it hard to see any such performance as plausible. Plus, what person in their right mind would agree to pretend to have cancer after going through that traumatic ordeal already? I would imagine once is more than enough.

It frustrates me that there is yet to be a certain, verified, official cure for cancer. I accept that there are different treatments available and that not all cancers are terminal but what I can’t accept is this seemingly worldwide belief that this disease will forever be irrepressible. How is it possible that we have sent people to the moon and yet we have not made a definite discovery in the area of carcinogens?  People are employed globally to work full-time towards finding this long-awaited cure yet they never prevail. To say I am angry would be an understatement and to suggest that I am afraid of becoming ill makes little of my turmoil. I need there to be some finding, some revelation that will ease my worries. In reality I will never awake to such news. What I can guarantee, though, is that I will attend many more funerals of fatalities of this disease and it could one day even be the foundation of my own.

I am not so much afraid of being diagnosed myself as I am of others nearest to me receiving such news. To even consider any of my loved ones being diagnosed brings about an overwhelming sensation of numbness. How would I cope with such news? No words could describe it. I would break in that moment, my whole world would shatter into a thousand jagged fragments and that would be it. No more would become of me. I see programmes on TV where people have been told they have three months to live and they step outside, guns a blazing, ready to make the most of what time they have left. The strength that must take is beyond my comprehension. I know personally that I could never show such courage. But, dare I say it, perhaps that is one positive which can be taken from such a life-altering experience. You learn to appreciate life for what it is, not what it might be or what it could’ve been. Cancer does not have time for “what ifs”. Cancer does not wait around until you feel you are ready to say goodbye. You can rely solely on what the doctor said but at the end of the day, unless this doctor can see into the future or is in fact God Himself, I would strongly advise against predictions. Doctors told my family that my uncle, who died Thursday last, had but a few weeks to live. That was five years ago.

I guess my reasoning behind this post is that I want to get people to be more appreciative of what they have and what they don’t have. Cancer is not restricted to any one age group or type of person. Just because you smoke doesn’t mean you’re going to get cancer. But at the same time, just because you eat well and look after yourself doesn’t make you immune either. My uncle was what you could consider a grade A human being. He ate well, kept extremely fit, didn’t smoke, didn’t drink, and went for regular check-ups… Cancer spread all over his body and all he could put it down to was chance. What was the chance he’d be diagnosed with cancer? What was the chance he’d fight the battle for over five years? And what was the chance that after five years of waiting his death would still cause so much heartache?

Like I’ve said, cancer is unpredictable. It’s a disease which will loom over each of our existences for as long as we will live. The only time we will truly have defied cancer is when we die; how ironic. Don’t wait until the news gets in that you have been affected by this disease. Do something about it now. Visit a relative, say a prayer, for God’s sake even write a blog post. Just don’t let it creep up on you like it has done to me. I can assure you that none of us will escape the wrath of cancer. No-one is that lucky, regardless of what the doctor says.

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