Welcome to Midlife Crisis, a diary of being 40 something and a half in today’s world…
As you get older you realise just how much life sucks. Bear with me, because I don’t mean here that for me life is bobbins – mercifully quite the opposite. Things are swinging along pretty nicely. But while my days pootle along reasonably well, there’s one word dominating it more and more, making me realise that, without any effort, with pure non-discrimination, life can suck. That word is cancer.
Big word for a Monday, I know, but here’s the thing: since hitting my forties I know so many people now affected by the disease. Friends, family, distant work colleagues. It’s like spraying bullets in a crowd – it can, at will, hit anyone for no specific reason whatsoever.
It’s tough. I used to hear in my thirties people say how, when you age, you’ll find that the people you know start to, well, die, really. Yep, deep for a Monday. But it’s only now I’m the age I am, that joint creaking year of forty odd, that the relevance of that message from my thirties has really slapped me in the face.
I think it’s the sheer volume of people affected by the C word that’s the really, blooming shocker. It’s simply huge. We’re talking good people here, too, who can be taken by the damn thing, consumed up by it regardless of fitness or well-being or being just a plain top human being.
Today, new research announced that a quarter of people diagnosed with cancer after going to A&E in London with symptoms are dead within two months. Two bloody months. And that, well, it makes me stop. It forces me to think about how life really, when I look at it, when I pick it apart and sift among its debris, is ruler length short.
A close friend of mine, a dear, dear old neighbour has cancer and is now in the palliative care stage. It’s terminal. And it’s awful. Because despite his kindness, despite his beautiful family, his strong yet calm presence, his quiet ability to level flat a room of utter chaos, his time with us all now is limited. Walks and days out have been replaced with morphine and sitting on the sofa.
I know, for a Monday, this all may be the last thing you want to hear, all this talk of cancer and death and feeling utterly hopeless. But there is an upside. There is something I’ve finally got now I’ve hit my mid-life, and it is this: we really MUST make the most of every single moment and live it. Stop taking ourselves so seriously, don’t, as they say, sweat the small stuff. Because we owe it to those who can’t to go grab it all and don’t let go. Cancer, see, is a machine gun. And you don’t know who it’s going to fire at next. I, for one, am going to enjoy dodging the hell out of it for as long as I can.
What do you think? Post your thoughts below…