”We’re going cruising now, while we still have our health.”
I’ve written before in this forum about the risk of waiting too long. Whether it’s going cruising, traveling, skiing or simply relaxing a bit, the world is full of examples – mostly third hand – of people whose mantra was “After the kids are grown and we retire, we’re going to…”
And then something happens, and they never do. Sometimes it’s a health crisis, even a death, and it’s those situations that cause the rest of us to think “Boy, that could have been me!”
Still, I think it’s human nature to think – at least subconsciously – that it’s not really much of a risk at all. After all, we’re in good health, we eat right, take care of ourselves, don’t have a family history… It couldn’t happen to US, right?
And then something happens to change that attitude of denial.
Nicki and I have been actively planning and arranging our lives to go cruising for nearly three years now, and we’ve set a departure date for August this year. In the last year, we’ve met a surprising number of couples with a similar plan, and naturally we’ve shared tips and ideas and encouragement for the transition. One of the things we’ve all done in preparation is to get caught up on dental work, routine exams and annual physicals, figuring it’s prudent to make sure there’s nothing lurking in the closet, health-wise, that might cause a problem when we’re miles away from our usual, familiar medical caregivers.
Four couples, 7 sets of normal, expected results, and one surprise: A possible cancer.
This fellow is middle-age, healthy, active, with a pretty decent lifestyle and no family history of anything to speak of, yet here it is less than three months from their departure on the fulfilment of a dream, and he’s hanging in a diagnostic never-never land, waiting for a biopsy and test results on an abnormal prostate condition that has a 30% chance of being cancer.
Friends, shit just got real.
For me as a “fellow man”, I can only imagine the emotions that must be slamming around in his head as he continues to make plans and work to prepare their boat for a 2-year cruise, all the while wondering if he’ll be able to leave this fall, or if he’ll EVER be able to leave.
Yes, Prostate cancer is one of the most survivable of cancers – although the side effects of a serous bout can be pretty challenging. He knows that his chances of a serious case are fairly low, and that fatal cases are extremely rare. Intellectually he knows that.
Trouble is, the fearful brain that rules all of us, now and then, doesn’t understand about odds and probabilities. That fear comes alive in the wee small hours of the night, thrives in those quiet, still moments of contemplation when the sight of a flower in bloom can just be too much to bear, and the “what if?’ questions flourish.
I hope and believe he’ll come through the next few weeks with nothing but good news and false alarms, but barring that, with a body intact and fully functional and eager for a later-than-planned start on their adventure of a lifetime.
I hope – but I can’t promise. No one can promise.
Lin & Larry Pardey have been mentioned many times in my writings, and they are often held up as the ideal of the cruising couple. Their mantra of “Go small, go simple, go now!” has been the rallying cry for a generation of small boat cruisers. Larry, now in his 70’s, is in the advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease, and is no longer able to safely spend time on a boat. What if the Pardey’s had waited “until we retire”? The history of small boat cruising as we know it would likely have been radically changed.
So here’s hoping for a happy ending and a clean bill of health. But let’s not take that for granted. That thing you’ve always wanted to do? That trip you’ve planned, the date you’ve never asked for or the skill you’ve never taken the time to learn?
Do it. Do it now. There are no valid excuses anymore.