“Plan your funeral. Then live!” What great advice. And probably for all of us?
So how would the celebration of your life ideally be? Who would you really like to come, what would you invite your loved ones to remember, what would you like them to do? To help me answer these questions, I’m going to talk to the people who help me plan my other parties – to make sure this is a really good one! So stay tuned and do let me know if you want an invite. Also feel free to share your good ideas: unlike weddings, we won’t all get to come to each others’ to watch and copy.
And just as important, we shouldn’t forget the second part – soon as we do it, let’s put the plan away and then LIVE! Which reminds me, my mum re-did the hymn sheet for her funeral many times and this drove my sister bonkers. So if you see me doing anything like this, please stop me!
This idea comes via one of my cancer heroes, Susan Sabbage. She is clearly going through a tough time now but equally clearly, her soul and spirit are truly alive. So please think of her. And also my friend Daniela has recently been diagnosed with cancer too. And Christoph’s mum who has a secondary cancer which looks as if it may be related to the radiotherapy she had for her first cancer.
When we have reason to look, it really does seems that cancer is scarily common. Gordon, who’s wife’s best friend died recently – leaving a very young family – says: “I just don’t like how as a society we shut down the discussion on what causes (my bold) cancer so we are all left with the feeling that life is a lottery.”
Of course, our collective denial is our choice. Yes, vested interests have greatly encouraged this passivity. They are happy if we stay trapped, chasing cancers after they emerge. But it’s fundamentally our choice if we switch off our critical thinking and mute our justifiable anger.
The bottom line is that trying to get rid of cancer after you have got it is such a bore! And not to mention very expensive. So we should spend way more on preventing it. That’s bleedin’ obvious! Why don’t we? A book called “The War on Cancer” explains how we began by fighting the wrong “war”, with the wrong weapons, against the wrong enemies. And this all persists today. Folks say the histories of the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute are still relevant! We face a big battle with the manufacturers of herbicides and pesticides because they have huge and increasing political clout – here’s how Monsanto makes RoundUp (glyphosate) seem less awful than it is! And the owners/investors of these companies – i.e. YOUR pension fund and MINE – are happy to profit from this state of affairs.
What can we do faced, with these powerful forces? What humans have always done when powerful interests piss on us! Organise, resist and force change! Find a credible campaigning group, and at least support it financially. Ideally, if you have energy, get involved. Here’s one in the UK and another in North America. If you want to recommend other groups, I’ll make a list. Just imagine is just 50% of the people who have cancer and 50% of the people who have loved ones with cancer were to get off the fence and force governments, investors and companies (ie B2B clients) to do the right thing about pesticides? Even the most aggressive chemical company would quickly change. Too late for those of us with cancer and who knows what percentage blame we can allocate to this. But from a prevention perspective, this really seems to me to be a no brainer. Do tell me if you think I’m missing something, Of course, I’m not saying pesticides are the only thing to address. But it’s a big thing. And it’s a self imposed thing. And there are plenty of alternatives but like crap food vs healthy food, it takes a bit more effort. Put simply, its convenient for shareholder value focused industrial farmers to use these chemicals and next time you are tempted to buy non organic wholemeal bread, think twice!
Back to funerals….of course, it not just cancer that should cause us to think about funerals! Add in all my friends with chronic illnesses – Christine is having a rough time with MS, Nick with depression, Jen and Sharmini with their newly diagnosed auto-immune illnesses – the list would become rather long. And who would fancy being so fit and healthy that you pass into the next phase/life without so much as a say about your leaving party! What a missed opportunity. It would leave us control freaks turning in our graves. Doctors gallows humour, I fear.
Anyway, I guess the moral of this is that we have more in common than we may immediately realise.