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Scared, Hopefully Not to Death


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By Kenneth Lourie


One of my greatest fears (or regrets, if I am in fact the cause of my own decline) is that my own stubbornness, stupidity, “male blockheadedness” and/or refusal to believe/pay attention to signs, symptoms, indications and instructions/health advisories from my oncologist about my health will lead to my premature death. Not that a stage IV, non-small cell lung cancer diagnosee originally given a “13-month to two-year” prognosis still alive and writing – among other activities – five and a half years later should think it “premature” after so far outliving his original prognosis; nevertheless, having received this diagnosis at age 54 and a half has caused me to still characterize my death as potentially premature given the fact that both my parents lived well into their 80s. Their long life had led me to believe that I’d live just as long. Hearing what I heard from my oncologist back on February 27, 2009, at the initial Team Lourie meeting changed my thinking, however.

Yet here I sit, not exactly “ensconced” in velvet as George Costanza loved, but alive and reasonably well, sitting “in the catbird seat” (to quote the late, great, legendary Red Barber, radio voice of the Brooklyn Dodgers {1939 -1953} and the New York Yankees {1954-1966}.) “Sittin’ pretty,” in the “rocking chair” are similar phrases of a type of good fortune. And considering my original set of extremely unfavorable circumstances – terminal cancer, inoperable, incurable, “perhaps you ought to take that trip you always dreamed of;” – I’m about as fortunate as one could be: sitting, rocking, standing, anything, in or out of the catbird seat or any other seat for that matter. Lucky doesn’t begin to summarize my amazing good fortune. And as much as I’ve done to affect my circumstances: diet, supplements, minerals, vitamins, non-western alternatives, holistic ideas, I certainly don’t want to stop now. (I grade myself a “B” on the how-good-I’m-doing scale; those who know my history would give me a higher grade, however.) But as live on, I try to pay closer attention to what my body is telling me, given that it may have outlived its ability to absorb the many poisons and toxins it has absorbed over these past five years having been subjected to almost non-stop chemotherapy, every three weeks – save for a 12-month break when I was able to take two pills a day instead.

After all this time though, it’s still my nature to ignore, shrug off and even minimize some of what I feel and attribute it to age. (Believe me, it’s a lot easier than believing it’s the cancer.) I mean, I’m not getting any younger, and while the cancer is presumably impacting me in some way, I don’t want to take my above-average health for granted. Nor do I want to worry myself into an early grave, either. But if I’m not proactive and worried – and attentive to details, perhaps that innocence and hopefulness may very well be my undoing; even though I’m not ready to be undone. Regardless of what I do, or how I do it, sometimes I feel like my life is a done deal. And that’s what scares me – to be the victim of my own circumstances.


Do you have fears you struggle with?


“This column is my life as one of the fortunate few; a lung cancer anomaly: a stage IV lung cancer patient who has outlived his doctor’s original prognosis; and I’m glad to share it. It seems to help me cope writing about it. Perhaps it will help you relate reading about it.” Mr. Lourie’s columns can be found at www.connectionnewspapers.com(link is external). (key word, Lourie) Read Kenneth Lourie’s 1st LUNGevity blog post & bio



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