I was saddened but not surprised by the Ted Kennedy diagnosis. Even my modest medical knowledge had me thinking Saturday afternoon that a first known seizure in someone of Kennedy's age and with no previously known risk factors could very well be the consequence of a brain tumor and that, if it was, it was likely to be a malignant tumor with a poor prognosis.
I was also not surprised to hear Kennedy's friends and senate colleagues talk about how tough he is and how he might very well rise up and "beat" the death sentence the medical establishment seems to be giving him. This got me to thinking about the best way for someone to handle a poor prognosis, which, after all, could befall any of us at any time, as I have long suspected that it will me someday.
What is the best way to react if we find out that we have a disease with a poor prognosis? It seems to me that we have two major options. We can resign ourselves to the fact that we're probably going to die soon, or we can refuse to accept this and "stand up and fight." I wonder if any good scientific studies have revealed what effects these differing attitudes and approaches have on longevity and quality of life. Does giving in to a bad prognosis hasten decline and death whereas opposing it produces the opposite effect? Or has no such correlation between these variables been uncovered?
Speaking for myself, if and when I receive the kind of "death sentence" Kennedy has, I think I'll welcome or, at least, resign myself to it more than I'll fight it. Why? Because, I know that I was my parents' mistake, and I truly believe that I and the world would have been better off had I never been born. I'm simply not equipped for this world and am more of a burden than a blessing to it, and I'm constantly frustrated by an intellectual and psychological reach that perpetually exceeds my grasp. That's no way to live.
Tears aren't streaming down my face as I write this. I don't feel depressed. In fact, I don't feel much of anything except weary indifference punctuated by a twinge of sadness for a man who is equipped for this world and who has done something worthwhile with his gifts over his long and fabled political career and could have continued doing so if not for a dreadful disease that will likely rob him of his gifts and the world of his contributions in all too short a time.
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