A friend knocked at my door and dropped off a bottle of seaweed pills. “It will fix metabolism and fight cancer.” Of course, I accepted the offer unconditionally. After some small talk, I shut the door and tossed them on the counter behind my toaster with the other worthless crap I received. I don’t take ‘magic’ supplements because they don’t work. And technically, it’s hard to do something when there’s a lack of faith. Supplements do not make you invincible.

Many patients crave invincibility. Many cancer patients feel like they are exerting some control over their destiny, even though they intuitively know that control is an illusion. I have seen 30-year-old macho stud muffins without a single inch of far walk into the cancer wing for treatment. One in particular stands out. “He’s a superstar,” a nurse stated. Mr. Macho convinced everyone he would pull through. He was stronger, tougher, and smarter than cancer. “He’s invincible,” another nurse replied. Unfortunately, no one told his cancer that Mr. Invicible was, in fact, ‘invincible.’

Several weeks post-treatment, his skin began to peel. His hands were cracked and painful. Leukemia exploded, and he became frail. Finally, inflammation exploded in his lungs, resulting in respiratory failure. Mr. Invincible died seven weeks later.

Then there’s the other extreme. Medical experts told an 82-year-old he had six months to live several years ago. “Your form of lung cancer is aggressive.” He spent the first month in bed. During the second month, he started feeling stronger and decided to cultivate a garden. “For the hell of it,” he laughingly said. Six months came and went. He didn’t die. He’s still alive and learning to play guitar. The gentleman went for an evaluation last week. “You have lung cancer and about six months to live,” medical experts reiterated. He smiled and waved goodbye.

Several people have emailed me about my cancer acceptance and the lack of ‘will’ to fight against all odds. So, therefore, ‘… you are willing to succumb to cancer,’ wrote one. However, believe it or not, with the help of my case manager, I spent the last few years confronting mortality and have accepted the inevitability of death. I just found peace with it.

I don’t visit a cancer support group. I don’t research alternative treatments. I don’t spend endless nights exploring new articles posted by the American Medical Association. All I have is a case manager, whom I see almost weekly. However, a few blog emails ask how I find meaning. I humorously quote George Carlin, “Life is not that complicated. You get up, go to work, eat three meals, take one good shit, and return to bed. So what’s the fucking mystery?”

I am not one to live by clinging to it. I will choose the quality of life over quantity. I am not invincible. Yet, I prefer to face death with dignity. Would I set a better example if I raged or went quietly into the night? I neither know nor care. What I truly find inspiring is the exploring the loving kindness God has provided. And that is all I require. God’s love costs nothing.

“There was a group of elderly gentlemen in Japan who would meet to exchange news and drink tea. One of their diversions was to search for costly varieties of tea and create new blends that would delight the palate.

When it was the turn of the oldest member of the group to entertain the others, he served tea with the greatest ceremony, measuring out the leaves from a golden container. Everyone had the highest praise for the tea and demanded to know by what particular combination he had arrived at this exquisite blend.

The old man smiled and said, “Gentlemen, the tea that you find so delightful is the one that is drunk by the peasants on my farm. The finest things in life are neither costly nor hard to find.”

~ Anthony de Mello ~