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Don't Complain About Age to a Cancer Survivor

Getting older can be seen as a privilidge.
PUBLISHED November 07, 2018
Jane has earned three advanced degrees and had several fulfilling careers as a librarian, rehabilitation counselor and college teacher. Presently she does freelance writing. Her articles include the subjects of hearing loss and deafness, service dogs and struggling with cancer. She has been a cancer survivor since 2010.

She has myelodysplastic syndrome, which is rare, and would love to communicate with others who have MDS.
My father used to have many wonderful expressions and used them liberally at just the right time. The minister even mentioned them at his memorial service. Some of them I wouldn’t dare publish, but others are funny, and I find myself repeating them.

One of his favorites if someone was complaining about life in general or not feeling well was, “Well it is better than the alternative!” That comment usually shut people up from feeling sorry for them, including me. The longer we can fend off death, the better we are.

I know many people who are insulted and afraid to “get old.” I was frankly upset myself when one of my college students called me an elderly woman. She could not possibly be talking about me, could she? I was sputtering and stammering about this, when my siblings and cousins quickly informed me that indeed I am elderly. I became even more defensive until I remembered that they are all older than me!

However, I never had a “thing” about age. I agree wholeheartedly with my cousin, who states she is proud of every year. I have never lied about it or spent money on expensive creams to make me look younger. I was actually pretty graceful about it compared to some people I know.

But cancer changed me. I now resent people complaining about getting old. I have just reached the benchmark of how long I was predicted to live when I was first diagnosed. I love my life and wish to live as long as I can be reasonably healthy.

Please don’t say to anyone with cancer how you hate it when you are reminded about getting old. Now, when people complain I tell them I only hope to get older. When I visit doctors for checkups or am around young people, I admit I am old. But it isn’t an insult or anything to conceal. Rather, it is a great privilege.

Those of us who are cancer survivors know this. Every day, every hour, every minute, every second counts. We are filled with gratitude for one more year. It is a privilege many people do not have, and we try to make the most of it!
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