What is won here?

October 31, 2010

I read a story today, written by a woman who found out that, due to her genetic code, she has about 80% chance of contracting breast and ovarian cancer. She chose, therefore, to have both her breasts and her ovaries removed. As a preventive measure. I sat with this article all day today, rolling it this way and that. It seemed such a drastic reaction, such a heavy handed, barbaric reaction. “If your hand offends you, cut it off” sort of reaction. To mutilate oneself to prevent something that might not even happen. But then it might happen. But then what does the “preventive procedure” prevents, really? Does it prevent illness, or death? What is won by cutting off parts of one’s body? Peace of mind? For how long? Until one realizes that there are other cancers, other diseases, that wait to kill us? What about all the other ones? What is won here, I wondered, what is gained? The fear of dying goes away for a while? But even if the fear goes away – the death doesn’t. Whether we are afraid of it or not, it is going to happen and there really is nothing we can do about it. So what can we do? When death looms over our head, what can we do? What can I do? What would I do? What would I do if I found out that I will get cancer, nearly for certain, sooner or later? As I asked myself that question I remembered moments from my life – moments when I sit on my porch in the morning, looking at the mountains surrounding my house, watching the ocean sparkling blindingly in the sun. Moments when I walk up the driveway after it rained, surrounded by the pepper trees’ overwhelming scent, and the deep, musky, earthy aroma of the moist soil. Moments when there is nothing but beauty, a limitless, boundless beauty of the world around me that I am part of, that I belong to, and in those moments I think that if I were to die now that would be fine, because in that moment my life is complete. In that moment I am complete. In that moment, if I were to die, it would change nothing. It would make no difference.

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