My friend Brek and I have a running argument (friends tend to do that, you might have noticed, and on the positive side, it can taken as a sign that they care.)
Anyway, Brek is quite insistent that I’m afraid in life of the wrong things, and that there are far more compelling and immediate things I need to be fearful of then that which does send shivers up my spine and leave me feeling anxious in the pitch darkness of night.
Brek’s advice, quite simply, is that I should be afraid — very afraid — of cancer.
His logic is that we’re both at the age of 51, and not all of us age gracefully, so it’s wise and prudent to see a doctor regularly starting now, with regular checkups for things like cancer. It’s an issue Brek has taken seriously for years; he does in fact see his physician regularly, and has even had the standard now-that-you’re-over-50 colonoscopy.
He’s also peeved that I moved to Florida in 2002, and I haven’t been to see a doctor once. Well, that’s not entirely true. I did go to an outpatient clinic a few years ago to see if the local doctor could remove a batch of earwax that I couldn’t get out. That was it.
But regular physicians and physicals? Cough, turn your head, blink six times while singing “Ah Luetta,” all that jazz, no.
Why, you might ask? Well, one is that I’m healthy, and rarely if ever get sick. A few colds here and there, that I conquer within a few days through major ingestion of tea and orange juice. But nothing to make the evening news. No stomach bugs, back pain, migraines, hysterical blindness, nothing.
And there is something else about me: I don’t fear cancer.
I’m not sure why, either.
It isn’t that I don’t believe I could ever develop it. Of course I could. I’m not invincible.
It’s not that my life hasn’t in some way been impacted by it: I have two loved ones who have been treated for cancer.
But I’m just one of those people who, well, don’t worry, obsess or fear cancer. I never think about it.
Instead, I fear two other things: serial killers and sinkholes.
Yes, I sometimes wonder … as I’m shutting off the lights at night, and checking to make sure the front door is locked …. whether outside in the darkness, in my otherwise safe, friendly, easygoing neighborhood, there lurks a serial killer waiting to break into my home and hold a knife over me while I sleep.
And I wonder sometimes, as I get in bed and start to drift off, if a sinkhole will open up, and swallow my entire home, me and my cats Fluffy and Crabby Tabby, with it.
Brek rolls his eyes every time I say this.
“This is ridiculous,” he grumbles. “Statistically there is absolutely no chance you’ll die from a serial killer or a sinkhole.” It drives him nuts to think I waste good mental energy on such pointless and goofy fears.
But who’s to say why we have the particular neurosis that we do? Have I ever had an encounter with a serial killer? Nope. Have I ever seen a sinkhole? Only on the evening news in some parts of Florida.
And yet, I watched both my niece and longtime partner undergo sometimes scary and grueling treatments for cancer. Shouldn’t that have woken me up, and made me say I won’t let this happen to me I will get tested now? But it didn’t.
Instead, I still peek out the window at night, just to be absolutely sure there isn’t a serial killer walking up the street, carving knife in hand, nasty grin on his face.
Who knows, maybe it’s better to fear things that are never likely to happen to you, then to be one who is obsessed with genuine fears – getting sick, losing their job, etc. – to the point where they stay awake at night worrying. Do I stay awake worrying about serial killers and sinkholes? Nah. I manage to sleep fine.
I suspect Brek will keep wagging his finger at me to find a doctor and get my check ups and go for that colonoscopy. Maybe one of these days I will.
But right now, I just lack that highly motivating sense of panic to push me into working all that health care stuff into my busy schedule.
Now, maybe if a serial killer sent me a note …
This is yer last warning, Freeman. Get your butt into a colonoscopy or … you die ….
Contact Mike Freeman at Freeline Media at Freelineorlando@gmail.com..