Saturday, September 05, 2009

Twenty years to live!

This past January I got the news I'd been dreading. I had prostate cancer.

My wife and I sat in front of the urologist's desk while he told me my options. For the treatment of prostate cancer there are choices, but I went with his recommendation, surgery to remove the prostate and with it the cancer.

The doctor looked at me and said, "You look healthy otherwise," to which I agreed. Barring my arthritis and the just-diagnosed cancer I was probably as healthy as a younger man. "You could live another twenty years!" he said.

Suddenly it hit me. There is a timetable on my life. Oh, sure, I knew there was a timetable on other peoples' lives, and somewhere inside me I knew that included me, but what the doctor said rocked me back on my heels just as much as the news I had cancer. Twenty years? Just twenty years? And by then I'll be in my early eighties and what will be the quality of life? In an Alzheimer's home like my mother? Sitting in a chair at home with the television droning on and on, my glazed eyes glued to the set but oblivious to what I'm seeing?

I'm terminal! My doctor gives me twenty years! I remember twenty years ago like it was just yesterday. I put things into context; my brain has to organize things, events, chronologically. Dates and times are important to me. "Let's see, my son was in first grade, six-years-old, so I guess that happened in 1983," is how my mind works on recalling a memory.

In 2029 will I be looking back on twenty years, saying, "I remember when I got my diagnosis of prostate cancer in January 2009," knowing that it will be unlikely that I will make it yet another twenty years? Gulp. Sometimes the way my mind works doesn't do me any favors, let me tell you...


Looking at this picture reminds me of time's passages. It was taken in 1979 of my son, David, and his great-grandmother, my grandmother, Venice Anderson, at her home in central Utah. David is now 32, and at the time the picture was taken my grandmother had another seven years to live. I'm not sure she thought like that. Maybe nobody else thinks like that but me.

Let's see, if I move real slooowwwwwww, maybe the twenty years won't go by as quickly as the last. Would that work? I'm about to put it to the test and I'll give you the results in about, say, twenty years...?

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