Turning a Blind Eye

Being a donkey
Being a donkey

Smoking can destroy you but only if the worst comes to the worst. Not everyone who smokes falls terminally ill. Most illnesses happen to unhealthy people who live unhealthy lifestyles. Smoking is just one way you can degrade your health. There are much worse things you could be doing than smoking. At least you’re not doing hard drugs. Besides, you know that you’ll quit smoking one day, just not today. It’s not important enough today.

The arguments are valid. You wake up the next morning and life moves on. You made it! You can make it again tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. What’s there to worry about? Practically nothing. Even if you do worry, time has shown that you’ve been wasting your energy on senseless thoughts. Your friends smoke and your parents smoke, yet none of them has cancer. In the back of your head, there’s something telling you that you might be the one to change that pattern, but every day proves that you’re not the one. You’re a survivor. You can beat all the odds and live a long, happy, healthy life regardless of the warnings. With a wry smile and some nervous laughter, you’ll admit that you could be the one, but you hope that you won’t be.

Cut back to the 90’s when my son was in intensive care with a rare form of auto-immune disease (AIHA). He was 11 months old at the time and his life was on the line. Lucky for his mother and I, we had an excellent oncologist taking care of him. The situation was overwhelming, not knowing if he was going to live or die. He’s 19 now, but I still reflect on how difficult it was accepting that his life may be taken away by nature’s course. Even more significant to me was the fact that my son was only one of the few facing a potential death sentence. The oncologist’s waiting room was filled with children with varying degrees of cancerous illnesses. I’d never known that so many people could be so sick and all at the same time! Every one of them was hoping for the best, as were their parents and loved ones.

These children came from everywhere. If you lived in a small town or a village, you might have known one, or perhaps none. Statistically, they didn’t count for much. What’s one in one thousand, or one in a hundred thousand? The numbers seem irrelevant when taken individually. You could walk around for weeks and months and never hear of another child with a life-threatening disease. And yet, they were all gathered here, all of them very sick and all of them needing expert care and help. They hadn’t chosen their fate. Fate had chosen them. All of them. Seeing so many of them gathered in one place made me realize that my son wasn’t the unfortunate one. He was the unfortunate one of many.

Turn a blind eye to the potential for being the chosen one who succumbs to cancer or another smoking-related illness. Not everybody has the privilege of attending the oncology clinic of the chosen few. Your friends and family may miss you but rest assured that, for the majority of people, you’ll be nothing more than a statistic. At least at the clinic you’ll find yourself among friends of a similar disposition.

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