Recently, I had a health scare that prompted a life review. The reader’s condensed version is this: a positive Cologuard test, subsequent colonoscopy where a mass in my colon larger than a golf ball was found, major abdominal surgery for its removal and pathology report confirming that the colon mass was benign. What I left out from my brief summary was the fear and uncertainty I felt when the gastroenterologist who performed the colonoscopy initially used the C word, after looking at the mass with his camera.
I discovered that my wife and I process information differently, which is to be expected. As a retired holistic chiropractor who knows a lot about nutrition, she went into overdrive, buying a new juicer, forbade me to drink wine again, and gave me more information than I was comfortable with. She studied from a surgical book how the surgery would be performed including color photos of my colon and the partial removal that would occur. Needless to say, I preferred to close my eyes and ears about information that made her more comfortable than myself.
After the initial shock, since I had zero health problems in my life before this diagnosis, I sat with the information and began to ask myself questions, which I am continually asking myself as I write this. If you are really honest, after reaching a certain age, I am sure you review your life calendar and ask “How long do I have to live?” I just turned 69 years old recently and maybe I have 20-25 “good years” left. Do you have a number count on the days you might have left on this earth plane?
This experience of facing my mortality is not a theoretical question but rather a substantive one resulting in confirming what I already know, but now must make every sincere effort to say or do. I believe we are in this life to experience:
In my situation, the removal of the mass in my colon, the pathology report stating it was benign and that I am making a quick recovery from the surgery have given me cause for celebration and extreme gratitude. I know that I have been given more time to experience purpose, generativity and joy!
About the Author
Victor Westgate, a high school educator of 34 years, along with his wife Dr. Lisa Cowley, a holistic chiropractor and nutritional counselor of 25 years, are authors of Pack Lightly: Making Sense of the Second Half of Your Life. You can learn more at: www.joyinaging.com.