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A Mostly Blank Slate

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A Mostly Blank Slate

A Mostly Blank Slate

A Mostly Blank Slate

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/9038182/6697119" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

The following essay is from the NPR My Cancer weekly podcast:

I know it's a cliche, but this is the time of year to talk about how fast 2006 came and went. The year just flew by. Things seem to go faster the older you get. I remember as a kid, if you had a whole afternoon to play, you could do a million different things. These days, with that same afternoon, I feel lucky to accomplish one thing. Where does all the time go?

A lot of it just gets wasted. Sitting in traffic, the minutes tick by. Waiting in line at the bank or the grocery story eats up our time. And of course, there's hospital time, which is different from time outside the doors of hospital buildings. Have an appointment at 10:00? You'll be lucky to be in by noon. You have to get used to it. There's nothing to be done; everyone there is working as fast as they can.

Obviously, as someone with cancer, I look at time a little differently now. It's more of a finite quantity. There's a limit to the time I have left — a limit set by the tumors in my body. People look at cancer two different ways: Some think it's a good way to go, because you have time to prepare, time to do the things you need to do. I've never really liked that argument. First of all, I don't spend all my time getting ready to die. That's not the way it works. Quite the opposite.

Others think you feel the pressure of time and hear that ticking clock. Are there things you always wanted to do? Better do them quick before you run out of time. I don't really feel that way, either. I don't feel my life is incomplete. I don't feel there are a couple of things I have to do before I die. I'd just like to live a while longer. Not because I want to climb Everest, but because I like living. I'm not ready for that to end.

So here we are at the beginning of another year. Full of promise, full of the unknown. A blank slate, at least a mostly blank one. As I look forward into this new year, and look back on the past one, I have to say that, cancer or not, I'm pretty lucky. I have just about all the things I could ever want or need. I've been very fortunate. But there's one thing: It looks like I may just run out of time.

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