I spent my first post-chemotherapy Friday on a flight to Maui. At first I was a little self-conscious of my turban-covered head and mask-covered face. Then I spotted a couple of others traveling in head-covered, eyebrow-less, eyelash-less splendor. I believe we were all happy to land safely after a somewhat turbulent flight. We still had cancer when we landed, but we landed.
So, here we are in paradise, cancer or no. I keep forgetting to put my cap on, venturing out to our lanai with my baby-bird-fuzz head exposed. The air on Maui is soft, the sun so warm. One wants to bare everything and just…bask. I expect to be wearing swimsuit and shorts most of the trip, no matter how many outfits were crammed into my suitcase.
This morning’s news is full of tsunami, death and destruction. A town of 9,500 missing, a nuclear plant in jeopardy of meltdown, 1,300 people known dead thus far. And…most of those people weren’t living in fear of death. They were living one minute, gone the next. The survivors are left to patch together what they can from the wreckage, and live on.
Every disaster, natural or man-made, seems to be followed by much discussion of how to prepare for the next one. Now I see articles questioning how prepared Californians are for an 8.9 earthquake and/or tsunami. Yes, we can stock up on emergency supplies and formulate an escape plan. Hind-sight is indeed 20-20. But, also, fate is fate.
I have several friends who are longtime cancer survivors. They’ve been quite supportive. Their philosophies about how to live vary as widely as their personalities. One advises me to go on a special, cancer-fighting vitamin regimen and to have my house tested for radon gas. Others advise meditation and prayer. I’ve been introduced to a massage therapist specializing in cancer victims. Whether or not I want to engage in any of the prescribed “remedies,” I do appreciate the caring behind the advice.
To prevent cancer, one should avoid: smoking, sedentary lifestyle, carcinogenic chemicals, being born with the wrong genes, bad air and stress. The reality of it is this: you get what you get. There are 30 year, two-pack-a-day smokers who never get cancer and die in their 90s of old age. There are never-smokers who die from lung cancer in their 40s. One does the best one can…and then it’s a crap shoot.
Japan has some of the strictest seismic building standards in the world. This, along with an advanced tsunami warning system and earthquake preparedness routines ingrained at youth, probably saved many lives. But there are many who didn’t make it, despite it all. All the earthquake preparedness routines in the world won’t bring them back.
So, what does one do? Live in fear of death by tsunami, plane crash, earthquake…cancer? Avoid living in coastal areas, travel by plane and breathing when in Los Angeles? Or maybe we just live with a modicum of caution and great zeal. We live and we enjoy every sunrise, despite the sunset that comes for us all.