My feelings regarding “Cancer” have evolved along the course of my life, from youth to old age. At first I absolutely HATED cancer, since it took the life of my father when I was only four (4) years old. This was in 1950, when science knew very little about cancer. My dad was only 40 years old. He fought the disease as best he could, even traveling from West Virginia, where we lived at the time, to Boston for treatment. Unfortunately he succumbed to stomach cancer despite being a big, strapping guy and leaving my sister, an adorable two-year-old, and me without a father.
I continued to hate cancer as I saw this disease take its toll on my relatives and friends. It seemed that there were very few families who were not touched by this omnipresent disease. As a Biology teacher, I spent many hours studying cancer and trying to understand why it was so difficult to cure. I used to tell my students that cancer was insidious. Because it involved a transformation of our own body cells, our immune system did not recognize cancer cells as enemies and, therefore, did not attack the disease.
When I reached my late fifties and early sixties, my attitude toward cancer began to change. I watched close friends and relatives receive the devastating diagnosis, but then have time to say “goodbye” and to spend valuable moments with loved ones, since this disease kills but only slowly.
Gradually I began to feel that, if I could choose my death sentence, it would be cancer. Having an idea about when I might die would give me an opportunity to say the things I have always wanted to say to my wife, my kids, my grandchildren, and my friends. I would have the impetus to get my affairs in order so that my death would not unleash chaos onto my family. I might even get to attend my own wake — a party to celebrate my passing before I actually passed, similar to what took place in the book, Tuesdays with Morrie.
To me, cancer is the way to go!