MY WEEKEND: What would you do if you only had six months to live?

Saturday March 5 2016

A previously over-cautious and reserved man, he

A previously over-cautious and reserved man, he even went bungee jumping, and gave karaoke a shot. The karaoke bit was a disaster, but at least he and his friends had a good laugh. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP Nation Media Group

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A couple of weeks ago, I read an interesting story about a man who was diagnosed with stomach cancer and told that he had only six months to live. He was devastated. Doctors say that the food we eat and our lifestyles have something to do with the

development of the disease in some cases.

This man had been a fitness fanatic, and ate healthy 99 per cent of the time, eating a huge portion of vegetables and fruits daily, and having red meat sparingly. He was, therefore, angry that of all the other

people who drunk themselves silly, ate copious amounts of meat and had never exercised even once in their lives, he was the one that got cancer.

He decided there and then that if he had only six months to live, he would not waste that precious time lying on a hospital bed getting treatment that would not save his life. He decided to do away with all the

things he had refrained from doing – he was determined to enjoy his last days on earth.

To usher in his new lifestyle, he walked into the first fast food restaurant and ordered a triple burger and greasy chips, which he wolfed down, vegetables be damned. After his meal, he headed to the nearest

video store and got himself a couple of movies.

He intended to spend the rest of the day plopped on the sofa watching movies.

Before his world turned upside down, he would have been in the gym working out around that time, but why bother anymore? In the months that followed, he drunk more than the two beers he had

previously allowed himself.

He also went out with his friends more, and called and visited his parents more. He still went to work, I mean, he needed the money to get by for those six months, however, he no longer put in extra hours nor did he exert himself like he did in the past.

A previously over-cautious and reserved man, he even went bungee jumping, and gave karaoke a shot. The karaoke bit was a disaster, but at least he and his friends had a good laugh.

He had been a diligent saver, but no longer saved, and lived from pay cheque to pay cheque.

A previously self-contained man, he became the life of the party almost overnight, saying yes to all the invitations. Within a few weeks, he had outdone the friends he had considered wild party animals, and

everyone wanted to hang around him because he was often in high spirits.

Six months came and went, but the guy did not die, and for some reason, did not feel as sick as he had when he was diagnosed with cancer. He was puzzled, impatient, and to some extent annoyed. When he

could no longer stand the suspense, he went back to his doctor to ask him why he wasn’t dying.


Puzzled as well by the healthy-looking though overly bloated man before him, the doctor suggested more tests. Wonder of wonders, the tests did not show any cancer. The doctor suggested a second opinion,

which also turned negative.

Everyone was stunned. What was apparent was that his was a case of misdiagnosis. What was certain though was that he had high cholesterol, thanks to his “rich” life.

He seriously considered suing the doctor, but did not, even though he would probably have been awarded a lumpsum – you see in those six months, besides managing to look like an overstuffed sack, and

having squandered all his savings, all which could be rectified, he had actually managed to enjoy his life much more.

That story, not as tragic as one would expect, got me thinking about what I would do if someone told me that I had six months to live. I would probably curl up in a dark corner and wait to die.

I would probably not bother to take a shower, and would promptly walk out on my job. Perhaps I would also shut off the people in my life, and wallow in bitterness, asking why me, instead of enjoying my

last days on earth. Having been inspired by that story though, I would probably do things differently.

I would live. But why wait to be told you are about to die so that you can start living?