By the time you read this, I'll be on my way to have a diagnostic procedure at my local treatment centre. I know, on a freakin' Saturday morning! What a way to write off a day. Don't worry, dear reader, I'm as healthy as an ox. But as you may know from earlier posts, cancer has featured far too commonly amongst my siblings (robbing me of one of them), so I have to have regular checks because now I'm under the radar. And I'm thankful - no, utterly grateful, to be under the radar. If anything should crop up in the future, hopefully it can be nipped in the bud. I was never one to worry about death before, and perhaps surprisingly, I don't particularly worry about it a great deal now. But I do think about the possibility of not being around a little bit more than I did. None of us like to think about our own mortality, but sure as eggs are eggs, we've only got our allotted time on this earth.
January in Britain has been blighted by some extremely upsetting celebrity deaths, all iconic, household names, all taken by the cruel and heartlessly random cancer; gravel-voiced Lemmy from Motorhead, inspirational David Bowie, the finest of actors Alan Rickman and just last weekend, charmingly witty TV and radio broadcaster Terry Wogan. All gone too soon - through no fault of their own. I didn't know these people personally, of course, they were not family or friends - but they had become a part of our lives. And I'm so very sad that they are no longer with us. I cannot bear when people don't get their full quota of life. Sometimes you hear about the passing of certain celebrities through thrill-seeking; the misuse of drugs and alcohol for kicks or, well, I don't know for what reasons. I hate to think of young talent, amazing potential snuffed out; a person taken in their prime. But the feeling that overrides this is a sense of...anger. Yes, I do - I admit it. I feel angry with with them. Angry that they took flagrant chances, played Russian roulette with that fragile thing called life. When so many others are ripped from this world kicking and screaming. Most of us would do anything to survive. I don't mean to judge; who knows what demons some people are plagued with? So nightmarish they feel forced to turn to substances to numb the pain. But life is so short, life is so precious, we need to hang on to it for as long as we can - if we can.
I don't mean to cast aspersions on those who feel the need to end their life prematurely because of mental illness - an illness is exactly what depression or anxiety or those other disorders of the mind are. Some people are so low they cannot see the wood from the trees. Some take their lives just through the sheer misery other people inflict on them day after day. Some people lead nightmarish lives that you and I couldn't possibly even imagine. So nightmarish that leaving the world seems like a blessed release. I get that. And it's heartbreaking that some have their very survival instinct crushed or beaten out of them.
Anyway, this is getting too heavy so I won't digress any further down that path. Hopefully this little procedure I'm having might be over by now. I might even be enjoying a slab of cake and a full fat latte as a reward right at this very moment. And apart from that occasional slab of cake and full fat latte (with possibly a biscotti on the side), I do the best I can to stay healthy. I've been reckless in my teens and twenties - even my thirties. Too much to drink, too much fatty/sugary food, too much sun. I haven't given up everything, we all need a couple of vices to make life more enjoyable). But I had a wake up call. Now I eat better, don't smoke, drink very little alcohol, regularly exercise, I rub in the factor 30. I go for tests whenever they tell me to. But my sister did all those things (she never smoked or drank and could swim for miles and miles) but it didn't save her. There are no guarantees, I'm afraid. But you can only give yourself the best of chances.
There's a reason I don't play with my health these days. And it's not because I'm afraid not to exist any more; I've never been afraid of death as such (I shouldn't say that. The thing that gets to me most is how scared my sister must have been at the end when she knew she wasn't going to make it. I never stopped to ask her. I was too afraid to hear the answer). I take no chances because of my loved ones. I do it for the people who would be left behind. And sadly, I know first hand what it's like to be left behind. Because you see, our fundamental desire to survive which all of us were born with and the majority of us still have, well that desire shouldn't be ignored. So my friends, take good care of yourselves, and maybe we can make a toast to our respective good health over a well deserved pint when we're in our eighties. We'll have crisps too. Well, it will be a special occasion.
NB: Apologies, YET ANOTHER maudlin post this weekend. I promise to make you laugh next time. Or that least I'll try. I'm not a joke machine, y'know...