The doctors told me that I have recurrent prostate cancer, they stamped on my forehead a little sign that says “EXPIRES ??/??/20??. I have tried and tried to wash that stamp off my face. No matter what I do it still remains, setting me apart from everyone else. I am not ready to expire nor am I “ Best By ??/??/20??”, the other stamp that has recently appeared.

Having cancer gives notice, notice that we will expire, but there are still remains question marks on the dates. We know these dates exist, that they are real. We know that they will rear their ugly heads sooner than we ever expect and sooner than we otherwise would wish. But, we do know they are there, serving as a warning to us and all the people who can read those stamps.

I am not feeling ready to die. I have things I want to experience, things I want to see, things I want to be a part of, but I also know that I have been given notice, I have been stamped, whether I like it or not.

So, I need to find a way to do as much as possible each and every day. I need to see everything around me and embrace it all. I need to extend that “SELL BY” date (I also have one of those) while also using every day before the expiration date as best as possible.

If I am not prepared, I have nobody but myself to blame. I am not into blaming myself for anything, so I will continue to use everyday left to the fullest I possibly can. So should you.

Joel T Nowak, MA, MSW