If I Have Cancer, Will You Sigh?

Boy Sleeping in the Hay Albert Samuel Anker
(c) Albert Samuel Anker

Cancer can happen to anyone, even to a short and frail boy-writer with a hat. Even before he turns 23. Even before his literary career starts. Even before he finds himself a sweetheart and attains financial stability. Alackaday!

There’s a 95% chance that I am the unfortunate owner of some kind of lymphoma, a cancer often afflicting young men about my age. I won’t bore you with my many symptoms, which include, among others, weight loss, fatigue, and at present, a choking sort of cough that’s most vexing, especially at night.

I’m having a hard time trying to decide whether I am supposed to die young or whether this disease has to happen to me so that I may change my ways and become a better person. Today, when about 80% or so of people diagnosed with cancer live at least 5 years, cancer can be a wakeup call to life. It creates the right conditions for you to assess your life, evaluate your progress, question your dreams, and sort your priorities. Sometimes we have to be confronted with death to fall in love with life.

I’m not going to ask you whether I should allow the disease to run its course or try to get treatment, because you probably live in the West, where death has a bad reputation, mostly because our culture is so worldly and materialistic. To tell you the truth, I have always had a profound dislike for my short and frail and weak body, which is why a change of state wouldn’t altogether displease me. Isn’t a year or so of pain worth an eternity of leisure?

I haven’t been to the doctor so far because I had more important things to do, that is, finishing the biography of a moonbeamed painter, contemplating funeral preparations, eating more fruits and vegetables, and trying to write worthwhile almost-poems. But now, vexed by my cough, I am seriously considering the possibility of visiting the nearest medical establishment.

I am fortunate, I suppose, because for many people with cancer, the diagnosis comes out of the blue, causing them not a little shock. In my case, I will go more for a confirmation than a diagnosis.

I think I shall visit a doctor the following week or the next. I’ll keep you posted.

Alas, the poor boy must be pricked with needles, subjected to costly scans, and perhaps even cut for a lymph node biopsy!

Don’t get your hopes up.

The author of this blog may die this year, or the next.

Until I figure out what kind of cancer I have and where exactly it is, I want to ask you something…

Is death really to be dreaded? Isn’t it vain to try to alter nature’s course? Isn’t it only normal to suffer tremendously if you try to fill your body with chemicals and radiation to prolong a possibly wretched existence? Is the purpose of life really to live as long as possible in order to enjoy as many pleasant experiences as you can? Isn’t it perfectly acceptable to die young from cancer, if you feel like it?

34 thoughts on “If I Have Cancer, Will You Sigh?

  1. Yo do pose some difficult questions Vincent. No, I don’t think death is to be feared but nor is it to be welcomed with open arms if there’s an alternative, jjust accepted if it’s inevitable. If you knew me you’d think those words were not being issued from my lips but they are.
    Nor all cancers are terminal and not all mean being pumped full of drugs and living a painful life for a year or so. Some can be treated by the removal of the offending object and just a short course of treatment.
    My life had terminal pancreatic cancer and was given less than 3 months. Her positive attitude gave us 21 months and she was horse riding almost to the end. She enjoyed every minute though accepted death was inevitable.. Better still, because she didn’t go without treatment, she gave all of those who loved her much longer in her company.
    Please keep us in touch and I know I won’t be the only one to say there are many of us here to offer support if needed.

  2. I’m sorry that you have to face this frightening situation. Death is not to be dreaded, but is a thing that must be faced, and made peace with in life.

    As someone who battled cancer, and for the moment, may have beat it, here is my advice: don’t quit, don’t give up, learn as much as you can, take the best care of yourself that you can, ask for help, and then know you have done all you can do. I hope for healing for you, and a long happy life.

  3. Dear Boy with a hat,

    If I was facing death I would be afraid, although I do believe that what comes after this life is beautiful.
    My mom was afraid of having chemo treatments but she responded really well. She didn’t get sick but she was tired for a couple of days. Treatment might be the same for you.
    Life is hard but it is worth it. I hope you fight, you have a lot of writing to do and I was counting on reading it.
    I’m sending good wishes your way 🙂

  4. This is really sad, but you had this nonchalant way of putting it…
    you just told what you had to say, maybe, a way of well, accepting
    it. I felt a frightened young man trying to hide his feelings.
    This story hits me personally because about 3 weeks ago, my
    favorite uncle passed away from cancer, lung cancer to be
    precise. He did suffer some, but it wasn’t drawn out like it
    could have been. I remember praying that he wouldn’t suffer
    much, and when he did get so sick, just to let go, find peace,
    and I know he did. I don’t even know you and have such a sadness
    for this young guy with so much talent.

    I would live life unconditionally, find that life within that
    soul that you write about, and not regret anything. One
    never knows when their time is up, so enjoy, be young,
    carefree, and love. I will pray for you and what the
    future might hold…so bring some life in your frail body,
    and let all you can, seep within and color your spirit.

  5. Boy with a hat, I hope your sickness is easily curable, because we don’t want you to be in pain, and if you die, even if you feel like it, and even if it was acceptable, you will surely be missed. I don’t know you except for your writing, but your writing makes me think more. For me, thinking is the purpose of life, not just all the pleasant experiences. So, I’ll be sending you positive thoughts from across the world, here’s to hoping you feel better soon.

  6. You have spoken my thoughts, but I am an old lady. I have lived my life and be as it may. You are young. Don’t wait! Go and get it checked. It may be not as bad as you think.

  7. Oh no, I hope it isn’t that much though. I’ll only answer one of your questions though.

    I think the purpose of life isn’t just to leave long but to leave a legacy even if it’s small for people to look on forever.

  8. Hi Vincent,
    I don’t have answers but i lost someone who refused the treatment for leukemia. When she died i had mixed emotions…love and hate, anger and guilt at the same time. If i could, i’d turn back time and beg her to fight…for me, even if i’m selfish for all the pain i’d put her trough…
    Someone asked me if i would fight cancer if the chances of surviving would be very small…i realize that it’s easy to analyze a situation from outside…
    But here i am, encouraging you with all my heart to do anything it takes in order to live (if, God forbids,it would be the case). And i’m doing this for a very selfish reason: i love your writings…i want you to stay in this world as long as possible, because you made me smile and you brought me hope trough your words…
    Please stay safe, i wanna read your posts till we’re both gonna be old and boring (just kidding, you’ll never be boring).

    1. My grandmother, who never smoked, died of lung cancer at 74. She did not undergo surgery or chemotherapy partly because she was afraid, and partly because she did not want to be a burden on her family, her only son having died years ago.

      You say you feel somewhat angry with your friend for refusing treatment. (Leukemia is indeed one of the more treatable forms of cancer). But I feel admiration for my grandmother for having refused a treatment that would have prolonged a wretched existence.

      The will to live is always strong, but maybe not always reasonable.

      Of course, age matters.

  9. I know you have read my blog and know my grandson survived brain cancer. If his father, my son, had not pursued it he would have died and not reached his fourteenth birthday. He survived. Of the twenty three in the test cases only three survived. But if he had not been in the study his chances were zero. Now my daughter in law at fifty faces recurrent colon cancer and her prognosis is poor. But she will fight. I expect you to will do so. Death is not to be feared but should be put off if possible. I had a stoke thirteen years ago and survived. I did not go to the hospital. I changed my life style, lost ninety pounds and gave up a lot of crap food. Pull your hat down and take the stand. Survival is good, fight and then when you are really down fight some more.

  10. Please go to a doctor soon, so at least you know what you’re dealing with. Then you can worry about making decisions. And you can probably at least get symptomatic relief if you decide that’s all you want to do. The cough sounds very uncomfortable & worrisome. My brother died of cancer 2 years ago. He did take treatment for it & it gave him 5 years. In those years he suffered some side effects of the treatment, but he had lots of good days. He spent them doing things he loved, reading & writing & thinking about things. He & I had many long conversations during that time that I will always treasure. Just like you, he had a lot to give to the world, even if it was just sharing it with the people he was closest to, & the treatment had value because it gave he more time to do that. I don’t comment much on here but I love your writings & poetry & would miss them very much if they & you were gone. I hope for the best outcome for you, whatever it is ❤

  11. Vincent – I’ll answer your first two questions. People who dread death don’t know or understand the truth. Life prepares us for what comes next. As far as vanity and nature’s course? It is vain to think you can predict or guess what nature’s course is… We all posess an innate will to survive – fighting that natural urge in the early stages of an illness before you know what you are facing is vanity. Go get checked out… Please?

  12. Take care of yourself. Your body, however frail, is a gift. It is your responsibility to treat it with respect. We should neither fear nor look forward to death, but do what we can to spread love and joy while we are here. I would miss you if you were gone.

  13. We are all dying,are we not? I think about this a lot. If I were to get cancer, I would lean toward avoiding treatment, though it would be for me a hard decision because of my kids.

  14. Good wishes for your doctor’s visit, there are many different treatments available depending on the condition…you have much in you to give, especially your writing! Now, go fight the good fight! Hugs to you.

  15. Hello, I am a senior citizen who has survived cancer twice and several other life threatening illnesses. Yesterday I gave a vocal recital, the first in my life. Each day is a struggle, I take enough medicine to fill a drugstore. But I am trying to tell you if I can get through with all of my illnesses, you can survive cancer. It is not a matter of being afraid of death, non of us came to stay, but believe that God is not through with you and decide to fight. You still have words of wisdom to depart, and all the other goals you have set for yourself. You are too young to give up. Try reading a little of Vonniesmuse on wordpress. It may give you some inspiration. Life is a struggle never give it up.

  16. To fight, one must feel there is something to fight for… for a man of your age, I would say there is plenty, yet-to-be discovered reasons to live. Not least of which is a faraway Aunt! I hope, when you go to the doctor, that they discover your worst fears are wrong. And that you will feel well again soon, or at least, that your suffering will not be prolonged.

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  18. Excuse my heartlessness, but a firm deadline can provide great motivation for writing. So it’s not all bad. Seriously though, see the doctor man. Frail 23 year olds should not self diagnose!

  19. You know it might not even be cancer, so go to the doctor before you start making your funeral arrangements. There are loads of other causes for those symptoms you describe and none of them are fatal. i.e. acid reflux, thyroid problems, stress, etc, etc. I’m now sending you lots of good luck wishes that you’ll live to a ripe old age. And you need to live at least for the next fortnight, as I just sent you an email via the contact form on your blog before I read this post, asking you to do something creative!!!

  20. Hi Vicent. My name is Lígia and I’m from Portugal. I started reading your blog from the past two weeks ago, always looking here for some inspiration and caring words as I’m a writer, writing my first Novel. I quit college studies to do this, and this story is now my obsession. My first good obsession, and I have to thank you for your useful posts

    About an year ago I was struggling with Bipolar Disorder and a second suicidal attempt. I wrote a lot of stuff during that time, even when I was closed in a mental institution. I thought that was my disease the way my creativity was flourishing, but I was wrong. I didn’t even know that was life and not death the real fuel for my words. I have to be sincere, just when I started medication, specially Lithium, my fears went away. And then I saw real life as it is and for the first time I felt sadness and not depressive. I felt joyful and not mania. When I started lithium, somehow I felt my inner creativity falling down and stopped writing for a year… until now. I blamed many times the medication. Seeing all this boxes full of pills: lithium, seroquel, priadel, lamotrigina, carbamazepine, rivotril, diazepam… oh damn, I felt so scared, feeling that it wouldn’t work for me, that it would made me a zombie (a fat one because of the secondary effects), that it would take away the senses to write. I’m in this since 2010, but now I can’t figure my life without my meds, must important:

    Now I won’t die young and a I don’t have to die young even if tomorrow I die in a accident. You know why?

    Because today I Live, today I have time and brains to write, and to write is to become eternal.

    Cancer is a different disease, but it can take you to depression and just make you stop all the things you love to do. You have to see a doctor, and not be afraid of anything: pills, treatments, pain, waist of time… Everything will be just the indicate for you. For you to keep with your amazing writing.

    Poetry needs you to live, not the reversal.

    My last suggestion, and this is my little secret, is to use some marijuana in a controlled way and just when you finish all your writing of the day. Once smoke can be bad for you, just make yummy space cakes.

    I hope everything goes for the best

    P.S – Sorry, my English is terrible.

  21. I’ve often considered what it would mean to get cancer at a young age. I think i’ve reached the point where I would rather not fill my body with chemicals, making myself miserable, in order to prolong my life. I wouldn’t say that I would welcome death with open arms, but I would say that death isn’t something to be feared. It’s not an easy conclusion to come to, but life isn’t all about living as long as you can. Live a full life while you have it.

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