Before my son was born I used to talk to him, yes, I was one of those prospective parents that talked to their unborn child.  We used to ‘talk’ about a lot of things, about things we would do, imagined scenarios, different things we would do when the time was right.  One of those imagined scenarios as playing midnight basketball, of playing basketball in general.  The idea was born of an event being held in the area during the past spring, an event called the Gus Macker 5 on 5 Tournament.   While talking to him I would tell his mother that he was asking if he could go out and play midnight basketball with ‘Jimmy’, that he wanted to be with his friends.  It was a fun time, filled with anticipation, all the anticipation we hold for our children, born and unborn.  I had never thought I would fall prey to these things, but fall prey I did and oh so willingly I cooperated.

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Often times when talking to people I hear them lament, lament about why this or why that particular thing happened to them, why something in the world happened.  They seek an answer to the cause, the cause of their particular circumstance, or some event, at any particular point in life.  They look for answers, for reasons for all events, for all circumstances.  I suppose in some ways they think that with answers, an understanding of why any one thing occurred, they can either avoid or, in the case of a good thing, replicate the occurrence.  Perhaps it is human nature, an inherent obsession to know anything, to know everything.  One my consider this lust the basis for most of human existence, for all of science.  But the real question is whether answers exist, whether every question can find a reason, some rational explanation for all in the world.

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Over the seven plus years of my being afflicted with cancer, with prostate cancer and all that goes with it, I’ve vowed to remain somewhat private when it comes to my situation.  When it comes to my professional life, I’ve found a certain bias when it comes to male health issues.  While I would like to say it is limited to the workplace, and be clear, I refer to the overall environment, not those close to me, it seems the idea, the notion, that men don’t get sick that they don’t talk about their illnesses because men are not supposed to get sick, they are not supposed to be weak.  It is much like the idea set forth in the movie disclosure where Demi Moore played the more powerful executive and who forced herself on Michael Douglas.  When he brought forth the transgression, no one believed him, they all saw it the other way, because, after all, he is the man and why would he not want to have sex with Demi Moore.  The stereotype is pervasive throughout society and includes men who are sick.  Under this veil I’ve chosen to remain anonymous, in this blog and when it comes to my disease in general.

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Often times when talking to people I hear them pontificate, even lecture, about how those of us afflicted with cancer must fight, ‘fight to the death’, or, as they say in the Godfather, ‘go to the mattresses’ when it comes to dealing with our disease.  When listening to those expressing this view, suggesting I pursue this treatment hope or that possibility; to fly all over the world seeking a remedy, I wonder if they have the least little clue of the costs of such pursuits, not only monetary, but emotionally.  I really wonder if they recognize the enormous cost, in terms of time, that come with such endeavors.  It seems to me, at least having listened to all of these ‘suggestions’ they speak from more of the perspective of desperation than the pragmatic.

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Depending on one’s perspective, perhaps religious affiliation, life is considered a gift, something over which we had no control.  Our parents, whatever their paradigm at the time, bring us into the world either by choice or accident, but in any case, as said, by providing us the ‘gift’ of life.  Since, by most accounts, a gift is ours, something given us to do with as we please, something conveyed without condition, it logically follows then our lives are ours to do with as we please.  I thought about this for a bit and have come to question the paradigm, the whole notion that ‘our’ lives are actually ours, that we actually ‘own’ our life.  I thought this something worthy of exploration given my proximity to death.

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Every now and then I have a bit of what I call an ‘episode’,  a moment or two when I get somewhat emotional, sometimes tearful, when I think about the whole of my situation and more specifically about dying.  Actually, it is never directly so much about dying, per se, but more about things like what will happen with my kitty, the pet to which I’ve become so attached and who seems more like a person in my life than a pet.  An episode may also involve disappointment with the idea of missing something like my son graduating college.  I had one such even while talking with my big sister about a week ago and her interpretation centered around my seemingly flippant view of my situation, what appears to many a denial of my fate.  In her eyes she feels I fail to accept realities.

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Life comes with many aspects, some say challenges while opportunities.  When considering any part of life, any expectation, one thing remains consistent, one thing seems always ‘demanded’ of those of use facing some ominous disease, some life threatening condition, and that is hope.  I wonder if those professing this ‘hope’, this thing supposedly binding to life, this thing we must hold on to at all costs, really understand the impact of hope, including the trade-offs made when replacing ‘realistic’ with hope.  I wonder if, even in the least way, they have any concept of how hope, in itself, can destroy itself.

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