Put life in perspective – but keep room for a right good moan!

Happy New Year! Here’s hoping 2016 brings you everything you wish for.

I’ve started the new year thinking about many things, amongst them mortality.

Let’s not get too morbid here – we’re all going to die. Unless you’re a former Rangers owner, that and paying taxes are the only certainties in life!

I’ve drafted this blog over and over again in my head over the past day or two. It’s still work-in-progress and apologies in advance if my points, though well meaning, are also a tad incoherent.

Many of you will have watched the Gordon Aikman documentary on his battle with Motor Neuron Disease (MND) last night.

MND_Scotland_logo_RGB

For those who didn’t, it’s well worth a watch as an incredibly brave, determined and honest young man gives BBC Scotland a deeply moving insight into what are effectively the last months and weeks of his life – details here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-35214429

Soon after diagnosis, Gordon knew he was dying, and chances are it would be quick. Fifty per-cent of those diagnosed with this incredibly cruel and debilitating disease are dead within 14 months. Gordon is 29, and now wheelchair bound.

Yet his attitude to life – the time he has left – is infectious. He tries to live life to the full each day. And to leave a lasting legacy that will help in research to find a cure or at least better treatment for MND sufferers of the future.

It made me think two things. There’s always someone worse of than yourself. And you should make the most out of your time on this earth.

I know I have an incurable cancer. But I also know that, unlike MND, there have been significant strides in science and medicine in recent years to improve treatment, expand survival rates and hopefully, move towards finding a cure for Mantle Cell Lymphoma.

I know that, unlike the relentless decline in health that MND sufferers experience, there’s a decent chance that treatment will make me better before, in time, it gets worse again.

The uncertainty can certainly swing both ways sometimes, but I know I have a degree of hope. Not too many years ago average life expectancy for Mantle Cell Lymphoma sufferers was only 2-3 years.

I try to avoid the plethora of stats and research, but now it’s more like 5-10 years.  I did see a reputable cancer website say the median rate is 7 years.

There’s not much I can do to dictate whether I’m ‘lucky’ or not, other than throw myself at the hands of the medics, take my drugs, stay ultra-positive and let nature take its course.

I’d love to say that I’ll live life to the full and treat each day as if it was my last. But we’d be bankrupt within the month!

You’ve got to be realistic. Yes, be positive. Yes, don’t put things off that you can conceivably do now. But accept that a lot of what you can and will do will fall into the box ‘normality’, and get on with it.

And when people say that “there’s always someone worse off than you”, it doesn’t mean that you’re not entitled to a right good moan about things that are these days described as ‘first world problems’.

By all means take a moment to put your worries into perspective. But there’s nothing wrong with a good mump about the weather, work, your football team, politicians, Waitrose being out of Fois Gras etc.

My other mortality point is that I signed off my Will today. That’s something else that puts things into perspective, but is, as I’ve said before, something I should have done years ago.

Final points.

I do try to stay very positive, but realistic. And there are two things that sometimes get me down (but make me chuckle a bit at the same time…).

I used to love getting my annual pension statement to see my projected lump sum and pension if I completed 40 years in the civil service. But now I only look at the ‘death-in-service’ bit and see how much I’m worth when I’m gone!

Secondly, I sometimes look at OAPs out and about enjoying their free time after a life of toil, and reflect on all the things Louise and I said we’d do when the kids were grown up and had flown the nest. Probably just wishful thinking now. So another reason to try and do now what we’d otherwise have put off until our tomorrows.

Stay positive.

A x

 

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About Andrew Slorance

Husband, father, son, brother, cyclist, pen pusher, pedant, contrarian , fights Mantle Cell Lymphoma in my spare time.
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10 Responses to Put life in perspective – but keep room for a right good moan!

  1. Jacqui Semple says:

    Happy New Year Andrew. What a blog that is! So truthful, heartfelt, and honest. All of the things most of us put off and take for granted you are having to deal with. That could be any one of us. I got my pension statement last week, in between Christmas and New Year, and found myself thinking I was worth more , with the death in service figure. Reading your blog, brings home the reality of that, and how much we all plan, save and talk about all of the things we want to do when we retire, or when the kids are older, or when we can afford to do more. I have been really struggling and morbid ahead of a big birthday this year in October: I can’t believe I will be that old, and it made me think about life, and what we do with it. So despite being down about the age, I’ve decided to plan things to celebrate (commiserate) so I’m off to LA in Feb (ok so my hubby is judging pipe band competition, and I’m going to make sure he does it correctly) then off to see Adele in March, Rome with my friend in May, a log cabin somewhere with midges in June, then we hit pipeband season, and then a sun holiday in Fuerteventura in October. I guess I’m saying any one of us could be you right now, and you have brought home the importance of life; a gift and one we need to grab with all we can. Please keep the blogs going; you are an inspiration, and an ordinary chap, telling it how it is for you; it hits home with us all! Big hugs xxx

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  2. Bobby Ronnie says:

    Andrew – agree with Jacqui and keep the blogs going. As George Bailey found out in It’s a wonderful Life, our true worth is not measured by the value of our pension benefits but by how we impact on others during our time here whatever the length is. You’ve always been good at making an impact – keep on doing it!

    Bobby

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  3. Erica Clarkson says:

    A hard one for you to write and a hard one for us to read Andrew – but it resonates. Please keep writing. With you in spirit dear colleague xx.

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  4. Margaret says:

    Real thought provoking stuff, Andrew. Perspective – something we all need! x

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  5. Michael Kellet says:

    Really excellent Andrew. Well done and Happy New Year. Your positive attitude and your transparency are a real inspiration to us all to live better lives.

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  6. Eric.MacLeod@scottish.parliament.uk says:

    Happy new year, Tiger … *firm shake of your hand and a wee teary man-hug with slightly over-long back slaps*.

    x

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  7. Gillian says:

    Happy New Year Andy. Good to read that you got home to the family for Xmas in your last blog and that you are facing the New Year full on. Looking forward to seeing you when you fancy a trip into SAH.

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  8. Milo says:

    Hi Andrew this was very moving to read and I applaud your honesty and bravery in sharing it. I’m really really sorry to hear about your diagnosis, but I’m very glad to see that you’re not letting it diminish your fighting spirit and good humour. Take care of yourself.

    Like

  9. John T says:

    Keep on kickin,’ from Pittsburgh, PA!

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  10. Ann Deans says:

    Hi Drew, Read your blog and as you know am going through similar. After 46 years with the NHS and holding many wee knarled hands as they pass away. I have NEVER heard anyone say they wished they had spent more time at work. So to all reading this and drew’s excellent blog. Enjoy every moment…………don’t ponder on the price tag too long. If you have it spend it…….it will give you much pleasure (don’t get into debt though) and create so many memories for your lovely family.x

    Like

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