I have a neighbor I am close to. She inspires me. She was like many women of the previous generation…dependent on husbands to make decisions, to lead, to pay the bills, to do the expressway driving etc. One day, 12 years ago, her husband died of a sudden heart attack. Totally unexpected. He had been her life, her protector, the person who managed her life. She wanted to die when he did as she didn’t know how to live without him, how to live independently.
But cool thing…she grew. She wanted to see her grand kids, but couldn’t unless she drove on expressways. So she learned how to do that for the first time. She’d never used a computer, but bought one one day and asked me to set it up for her and show her how to use it..I did. She bought and learned how to use a genealogy program. Her husbands Italian family had been the focus of her married life…but now she wanted to know about HER family! In the end, she drove all over the country on expressways to meet distant relatives. She worked harvesting on a farm in the Dakotas with distant cousins. Spent months in California with newly discovered family. She wrote two genealogy books. She traveled alone to Russia and Germany to find more about her roots. Amazing.
Today she called me. They’ve found a spot on her lung. They gave her antibiotics…maybe pneumonia? Though she had no symptoms of pneumonia. The antibiotics didn’t help. Now a PET scan…she used to smoke but quit years ago (half of the people diagnosed with lung cancer are FORMER smokers).
She now has the “scanxiety” we all know. She feels fine! She said maybe she doesn’t want to know..she can just go on with her life feeling great like she does now (at 75) without tests! They want to do a biopsy…but why? She feels fine! Cancer patients feel sick, don’t they? I told her when I’d been diagnosed with stage 4 terminal cancer I’d felt fine too. She should just get the tests so she knows what she’s dealing with. Though we discussed if she would chose to have treatment if cancer was discovered?
But I’ll admit..nowadays I don’t want to be tested either. If I feel fine, I don’t want to get tests that might tell me otherwise. I don’t get CT scans or tumor markers anymore, though maybe I should. I reluctantly go for my to frequent colonoscopies. I have one scheduled soon.
When I am 75, will I get any tests? Would I want treatment if I found I had cancer? Something to think about. I had an 80+ year old uncle who was diagnosed with cancer..he died of the treatment, not the disease. When do we quit looking for problems? When is it better not to know than to know and treat?