When I was first diagnosed 20 years years ago at age 51 years with advanced prostate cancer, I had an acquaintance named ‘Edge’ — whether his real name or not, I do not know. Edge was about 65 years old and would bike everywhere. He had a lot of reconstructive surgery done to his face after dealing with a particularly aggressive form of cancer. I don’t even know which cancer it was.
The time I first met him, Edge’s cancer was in remission, however it had been in remission previously and come back. When it had returned some years earlier it came with a vengeance, and he told me that twice he was put into the palliative/intensive care ward for terminal patients. It seems he pulled through and survived by sheer will power.
When I was first diagnosed, Edge said to me, “are you a ‘why me’ person or a ‘why not me’ person?”
I didn’t need to think about how to answer because I’d already thought of a number of reasons why I could or should have this cancer: I hadn’t followed a healthy lifestyle; when I was very young I was around DDT on the family farm; I was exposed to dangerous thermo-setting plastic fumes in my self-employed work, etc.; and not to mention the karmic viewpoint! So, my answer was, “I think I’m a ‘why not me’ person.”
“That’s good” said Edge. “From my experience, those that accept and deal with their cancer have more of a chance to get on top of it.” Over the next few years, Edge and I became good friends.
My wife, Jane (Jivananda dasi) recently reminded me what Edge told her before I talked to him about my cancer. She had gone to a meditation evening and Edge was there with quite a few others. Most avoided my wife, most likely not knowing what to say, because at that stage my prognosis was bleak. But Edge came up to her and said, “Is it true your husband has advanced cancer?” When Jane confirmed that I did, Edge said “Good, good, good, now he can use this experience to make valuable changes.”
From very early on, I have been accepting of this disease. Even with all the pain it has caused me, it is an experience that has taught me about myself. It puts everything into perspective with regards what is important and not important in life. I am grateful for the lessons learned.
These bodies come with an expiration date, believe it or not it can be good to be reminded of that every day.
What happened to Edge? We got together regularly for a year or so until he left for a bicycle tour of New Zealand for a few months. I never heard from him after that. After about 6 months, I visited the flat he kept here in Brisbane and the landlord told me he also never heard from him after he left for New Zealand and he eventually re-let Edge’s flat.
Edge was an American living in Australia and left some documents with me when he left for New Zealand, so I feel if he was able to return or contact me he would have. All the best to you Edge wherever you are and thank you for all the friendship and advice you gave me.
(And no, he didn’t join the band U2!)
Namaste Chaitanya das aka Charles