Strolling Towards Death
Guest Post By Robert Hanlon
I’m dying. Yes, yes, we’re all dying, from the moment of birth, blah, blah, blah. But me, a little more so. My cancer is back.
I’m not sick. I have an illness, if that’s what prostate cancer is. Or a disease. Or a condition. I’ve periodically read a lot. Swirls of studies, web-blogs, newspaper articles about treatment, survival, symptoms, support programs. And then I have forgotten or conflated that piecemeal collection of information and commentary. I know a lot. I know almost nothing. I should know more. I don’t want to know more. No more. At least not yet.
I have no symptoms, at least none from cancer. Every once In a while I get a twinge. Could that be a bone lesion? No. I know it can’t be, because I’ve just had a bone scan, and I’m clean. For now. I get a hot flash. That’s probably the hormone treatment. There is a male menopause, especially if you are taking androgen suppressors. Or maybe it’s just a bit warm in here. The headache? What’s the big deal about an occasional headache? Weight gain? Well, I didn’t need to get sick or get treatment to struggle with that.
So I’m not sick. I listen semi-patiently to the narratives of my cancer-free age mates. Talk of real pain and limitations and surgeries and rehabs, and I know these people hurt, but will it kill them? It’s not cancer. I have cancer! Don’t bother me with your petty aches and nostrums. My situation is life or death. But will mine kill me? I don’t know. For now, I sit here, still able to work and play and eat and do almost anything a late middle-aged man should be able to do.
When I first heard the diagnosis, I did the usual – fear, denial, panic, focus on treatment, insistence that everything will be all right, we will beat this. But on the eve of my surgery, I lay calmly in a hospital bed and thought about the possibility of dying the next day. I might. It would be sad. I wanted to live more. There was a lot I still wanted to do. See our kids get married and have