Surviving In This Very Moment…

My Personal Battle with Prostate Cancer … And Life!

Here I Am!

Abstract

Abstract

Sometimes I wonder just how many significant opportunities to escape the mundane, day to day activities of life are offered up in a single lifetime. A group I belong to, one that relies on platitudes to make a point, drills into its membership that one must live life on life’s terms. For the most part, that means accepting the humdrum of a random life, one that offers up both challenges and boredom, and mostly boredom. So perhaps the question of escaping the day to day absurdity of the lived experience is not the goal, rather the challenge is to learn to live with the chores of existence while being open to the challenges that sometimes come along.

Challenges appear without notice. There is no announcement that a challenge will present itself on Wednesday at 7:47 AM so be ready. No, challenges strike randomly from apparently nowhere in particular. They are random occurrences that follow the mathematical laws of probability.  Most challenges sort of creep up on you. Once noticed, they don’t seem to have a point of origin. They are suddenly just there, presenting themselves in a way that causes one to remark, “Where did that come from?” Others present themselves suddenly, without any real warning even when a point of origin can be readily identified. The evening after my bone scan and CAT scan, sitting at the dinner table, when my urologist called and said, “You have prostate cancer,” proved to be one of the latter challenges. Those words were like a glass of cold water being thrown in my face, a wake-up call that, while perhaps anticipated, came as a shock.

Challenges offer one some choices. In the case of my diagnosis of prostate cancer, the choices were quite simple. I could turn inward, sit on the pity pot, sink into a depression or I could choose to become an advocate for life, to turn a theoretical ethics into a practical ethics, to become available for myself and for others. I chose the latter as being the only reasonable approach. I chose to live life on life’s terms. This is not to say that I didn’t make aggressive treatment choices, I did. A prostatectomy is major surgery even when done robotically. I chose this approach because it provided the best possibility for a long-term “cure,” although I don’t believe there is ever a “cure” for cancer, only a set of survival statistics, probabilities, percentages. If I understand my own mortality statistics, there is a 15% probability that I will die as a result of prostate cancer in the next ten years. Certainly nothing to go into a grand funk over. After all, I am 69 years old and I would think that I have around a 15% chance of dying from anything over the next ten years.

What this challenge has provided for me is something that I could not have anticipated, the ability to turn my humdrum lived-experience into an ethical one. This is not to say that daily living will not still be filled with routine, be commonplace, rather it means that I am always already present for the other. Here I Am! does not mean that sudden changes will occur in my life. To the contrary, I am creating proximate space that may or may not be addressed by the other (person) but the moment it is, the moment I hear the call of the other (person) I must act for the benefit of the other (person)…period. I see this ‘calling’ to be concentrated on benefiting prostate cancer patients but it is not limited to that sphere of influence. To be truly ethical it must not have walls to contain the effort. So, once again, Here I Am! I stand at the ready in proximity simply waiting to be called.

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4 thoughts on “Here I Am!

  1. As I was reading this, our neighborhood flock of geese just flew over on their way to “work”. These are commuter geese, not migratory. They are here year round, nesting along the Willamette down in Oaks Bottom or nearby, and spend the day in several parks to the east of us. They make a mess there, but hearing them fly over the house, or even hearing their wings flap if you are lucky enough to be out walking when they rise up out of the Bottom is marvelous! They seem to have come to grips with life’s challenges, or satisfied with life here like we are. No urge to move north as the weather warms, and then south again. Or maybe we’re all just lazy! My latest PSA, six months post surgery, is “non-detectable”. Time to go shower for my commute.

  2. Good morning David,
    Simple pleasures seem to provide the greatest reward. Nothing is so damned important that one should be robbed of those little things. That’s why I stopped wearing a watch, listening to the news, reading a newspaper or even paying attention to the weather. I think I’ll spend the remainder of my days on this earth (not that they should be cut short too soon) reveling in the connections I have, friends (both new and old), family and others that make life worth living. I no longer need to commute as I am retired from a long career as a teacher and professor but I won’t give up the pleasure of a morning shower either.
    I certainly hope my next PSA will be as “non-detectable” as yours.
    Roger

  3. Pingback: Overlapping Circles of Community « Surviving In This Very Moment…

  4. Pingback: Probability and the Meaning of the Universe « Surviving In This Very Moment…

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