Scary times

In an hour or so, I must ready myself for Dr’s appointment. I certainly hate visiting the doctor these days. This is only an annual eye exam, but the Opthomologist’s office is in the hospital center which means we park in the same garage as the bone doctor two floors above him.

I’d rather be home reading and sipping tea.

The past few days, I’ve walked the dogs early which means about 10 AM around here.  This week, we’ve stayed up late watching Ken Burns new series on PBS, about Cancer, which has scared the bejeezes out of me and David.

A friend of ours died a few months ago from Pancreatic cancer, and David’s mom and sister died from lung cancer, and my dad from bone cancer.  My sister had lymphoma and is in remission, and a few years ago I underwent extensive tests for CML, a type of leukemia.

Last year, Karen the pool instructor had both breasts removed simultaneously, while her husband, now deceased was fighting brain cancer.  I’ve previously mentioned Cathy and Kathy my neighbors, who both have/had breast cancer in the past two years, and are both taking post-op medication to treat it.  And on and on the list goes.

I know from personal experience that while cancer seems to be increasing, that’s largely because medicine has improved and infectious diseases that once killed have largely been conquered or suppressed, perhaps only temporarily if this anti-vaccine craze goes far enough.

Looking at my dad’s maternal ancestors death certificates tells me if they survived childhood, they were killed accidentally (drowning, freezing to death, struck by lightning), or died of old age (most lived into their 80s and 90s). Lung ailments like consumption took a few of them in the middle of the nineteenth century.

Dad’s paternal ancestors had mixed experiences. Cholera in a Chicago tenement killed some of them (if I Great Aunt Ruby’s research is correct).

Mom’s side is filled with accidents, like drowning, the result of “falling into a canal while inebriated” according to one record.  Mostly their deaths were owing to heart disease, although Grandpa Hage, a chain smoker died from lung cancer in 1950.

Captain Lorenzo P. Adley
Captain Lorenzo P. Adley, USCT

Although gravely wounded one of the four times he was shot, Great Uncle Lorenzo (dad’s side) survived the Civil War, as did his nine or ten brothers-in-law, all of whom were Union soldiers and one of whom was my second great-grandfather Jonas.

According to Burns series, smoking became a big health issue in the twentieth century.  And smoking leads to the most deadly cancer of all…lung cancer.  Neither David or I ever smoked, but we grew up with chain-smoking parents, which scares both of us because passive smoking affects children. Yet another reason to live one day at a time.

23 thoughts on “Scary times

  1. A good reason for us to be sensible, get regular check ups but also to enjoy each day to the fullest, as one just never knows. Thanks for the comment and I quite agree with you.


  2. I made a decision to not watch the Burns show on Cancer. Why? Mother had 2 breast surgeries, thyroid, mouth, colon, and a couple more. Dad died of cancer of the mouth. Uncle: Died of colon Cancer. So many friends died of cancer. The X: Pancreatic, Best Friend: Breast. Grandma: breast/ G’s dad: Metastasized Melanoma. I can go on for half an hour. I volunteer at the ACS Discovery shop and that scares me to death most days.

    Hugs to both of you.


  3. Yikes. I know. It is scary. I’ve just started a new battery of tests with my doctor and all I can do is pray they come out fine. I think I’m fine but you start imagining.


  4. Kind of morbid, huh? I am fatalistic. When the ticker (heart) stops ticking, you are dead.
    Anyway, even if I were to die now, I would do so believing I had lived a full and interesting life.


  5. Yes, all the research and new reports coming out can be intimidating and scary. Since we all must succumb to something, I try to eat in moderation and exercise often. Clean eating is difficult to achieve because much of our food is chemically treated or altered in some way.

    I hope everything goes well with your eye appointment.


  6. We all have to die of something, None of us get out of this world alive. I am always fascinated by people who claim to be religious and believe in heven, yet they seem to be so scared of dying. Why, if heven is so wonderful?


    • I’m not afraid of dying, but have fear for others. As our friend Buck Doyle used to say, if believing in heaven helps you live today, then that’s excellent. Sometimes the only way to deal with the death of a loved one is to believe you will see them again.


      • I don’t go with the ‘seeing people’ again. Take Japan’s Misao Okawa, who died from heart failure today, at the age of 117,. She outlived her husband by 84 years! If he meets her at the pearly gates, he would not recognise or remember her!


      • That sounds like regression to me.If we all landed up in heaven aged twenty, it would soon turn into hell!

        It is the greatest fairytale yet and nobody has ever come back to tell us about it. All you ever hear about are dark tunnels and a bright light.


  7. Everybody’s parents smoked when we were kids didn’t they? My brother died from bone cancer… We lived in Washington state and there are some who say that being near the Hanford nuclear plant caused more cancer. There was an organization for awhile called “the downwinders” that were trying to prove that, but of course they couldn’t. My brother was philosophical about it. He just figured the inevitable got to him a little earlier in life (it was a lot earlier actually).

    Interesting dark humor came to my mind re your anti-vaccine comment. Don’t vaccinate your children and they probably won’t get cancer? (Because they’ll probably die of measles first… ? ). I totally do not get those stupid women who won’t accept facts.


    • I believe there is a vaccine for one type of cancer.

      I am a bit of a fatalist about my own demise, not so that of others. Both David and I are concerned about the bodily incapacity associated with extreme illness. Just today when we visited our favorite coffee shop he had difficulty standing from his chair. Another patron walked over and lifted David holding onto him until he was steady.

      David thanked the man, but told me later he was embarressed. I suggested to David he did the man a favor by allowing him to help. You made him feel appreciated I said. So you did him a favor too.


  8. I understand your fear but what struck me in this post was not the number of deaths by cancer but the number of deaths, full stop. Something will get all of us in the end; worrying spoils the time left.

    Now, if only I could take my own advice…I’m as anxious as they come; just not about death.


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