Posted by: cg00n | June 22, 2009

The Up Side

The last couple of days have been pretty good.  Two events of minor significance have taken place.

Firstly, I got a call from Mr. P.T who is the guy I met a couple of weeks back after a visit to the oncologist.  He was kind enough to relate some of his own history with melanoma.  It started as a mole behind his knee, initially dismissed by his GP as insignificant.  Unfortunately it wasn’t and he had surgery PDQ and did a year’s worth of interferon treatment.  Soon after the melanoma showed up as a skin condition on his thigh.  More surgery and an isolated limb perfusion followed.  All was more or less quiet for a couple of years and then it showed up again, still confined to the leg.  More surgery and another perfusion.  Now, six years after the initial diagnosis, it is exhibiting on his back and they are still cutting bits off him.  He is very upbeat about life and seems happy to talk about his experiences.  Sometime soon I’m going to meet him at a convenient watering hole and compare notes in person.  I find it hard to talk to someone about their illness unless I know them pretty well; I don’t want to upset anybody.

One thing he mentioned that was very interesting is that having had the interferon he is not eligible for many of the clinical trials of new drugs.  They generally want to start a novel treatment with a clean slate.  In my case I’d stand a better chance of qualifying.

PT’s experience gives me a somewhat better feel for what my own time line might look like.  If things come to pass in a similar manner I probably have at least 7 years to live.  That means I’ll probably break the big 6-0 barrier.  The end is not yet too nigh.  Probably.

Having said that, the second event was a sort of quiet, internal realisation that I am coming to terms with the end of my life.  I mean, 7 years is still quite a long way off and there is still the possibility that things will happen somewhat more quickly (think falling helicopters) or more slowly (think miracle drug breakthrough).  However, assuming that is a reasonable rough estimate, I can definitely see an up side to this arrangement.  I will not have to worry about any other diseases of old age:  Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s to name but two.  I can look forward to being able to relax about the state of the world because there will be nothing more I can do, pro or con.  I can spend the last couple of years eating all the high-cholesterol foods I love.  I can leave the lawn mowing to someone else.  I won’t feel guilty vegging out in front of the television watching re-runs of all those really great shows from my misspent youth.  I won’t live long enough to be a burden to my kid.  Basically, as P put it, I will not outstay my welcome here.

Does this sound weird?  A positive spin on a relatively early death is not something I’ve come across before but it seems to make sense to my subconscious.  Comments welcome, as always.

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Responses

  1. Mr. P.T. has had an interesting experience with melanoma and is proof they are getting better at treatments. I’ll be praying for the miracle cure, rather than having bits and pieces removed from your body over the next seven years. Though better to loose bits and pieces here and there … and get to see Ashley graduate! A few pints on my part and maybe I’d be feeling my oats and writing a more thought provoking response. Or maybe I’d be sobbing in my beer thinking of all you’ve been through at such a young age (and that would not be a pretty sight!).

  2. Bob

    I don’t know if this might be helpful. As I was reading this entry I thought to myself “how many of the treatments Bob has had weren’t even available 7 years ago?” In other words, 7 years is not just a long time, it’s long enough for new helpful treatments to emerge. There’s no guarantee, of course, but it’s something positive to keep in mind.

    Perhaps I had this thought because life expectancy at birth seems to have risen at about 1 year for every 2 years that pass, over the last 40 years, mostly because of disease prevention and treatment.

    Love from all of us from the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

    Dan, CC, Jasper, and Jonquil

  3. You might also consider taking up bungee jumping.

  4. It doesn’t so weird to me in the least, it sounds very wise.

  5. Not weird and a really good leap forward in your thought process! i.e. Seeing the glass as half full rather than half empty.


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