Wednesday, 16 March 2011

the indignities of growing older

Photo: me, my grandmother (who turned 100 last year), my mum in the background

Since the tragic death of my brother, Lindsay, nearly 3 years ago I have been subject to annual medical tests to monitor any hint of emerging bowel cancer.

The term ‘medical tests’ sounds polite and clinical with an aura of gloved, professional people wearing shiny glasses, clean white coats and the gentle chink of metal instruments on glass tabletops. In real terms, this is about being up close and personal with your own poo to achieve the ‘collection of samples’ routine. I suppose it could be worse – at least I’m not the person whose job it is to open those bottles. Every 5 years I also submit to a colonoscopy, which is another barrel of laughs. As undignified as it is, it is the preferred option to risking an encounter with the bowel cancer demon.

breast cancer

Last year I spent 5 months dealing with breast cancer. It was a very small cancer and was successfully treated. I escaped what could have been much worse. But 5 months of my life was focused on hospitals, surgery, drugs, treatments, radiation, appointments, waiting rooms, confusing medical terminology and scary equipment.

the future plan

If you’re like me, this prospect of more medical encounters in the future is not anything I’m exactly over the moon about. Whatever I can do to minimise, reduce or avoid more of this medical world, the better for me. I value my physical health, and have aligned my behaviours accordingly. My strategy is to maintain health and fitness whilst not doing anything akin to ‘putting my hand in the lion’s mouth’ like indulging in harmful behaviours.

getting wiser

There is also an attitude in myself that needs attention too. It’s about ‘gracefully surrendering the things of youth’ (Desiderata), acceptance and wisdom. I’m toying with the idea that growing older is indeed about ‘growing’. Learning to be gracious, learning to accept, learning to be wise. These are values I also admire and aspire to.

Thank goodness there are some great advantages to being middle having some rungs on the board. I don’t wish to be young again either. That may indicate a sense of an unsatisfied or unfulfilled life. So while I can influence my medical future to a degree I am completely in control of my internal growth with regard to who I am. A great quote I read put it this way:

”You have to find what’s good and true and beautiful in your life as it is now. The truth is, part of me is every age I’ve ever been. I’m a 3 year old, I’m a 37 year old, I’m a 50 year old. I’ve been through all of them. I delight in being a child when it’s appropriate to be a child. I delight in being a wise old man when it’s appropriate to being a wise old man. Think of all I can be! I’m every age up to my own.” (Morrie, from the book Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom)

What’s your attitude to ageing - fear? excitement? caution? Click ‘comment’ and give us your words of wisdom.


  1. I have found that "growing older" is very liberating. Having recently turned 40 I have allowed my thoughts to "be kinder" about myself. Not to let myself go, but to allow myself to do things "without wondering what people are thinking about me". I still have a way to go with it, but I'm on my way.

  2. I love that quote!! sometimes I DO feel like i'm a 3 year old,an 18 year old, sometimes i'm stuck on 22 year old but I love growing old especially as i'm going through it with my best friend (Chris) that always helps!! love reading your blog Cyn you have a good perspective on things !

  3. Hi Leanne. It's great to hear you so positive about being 40 plus! You do get more comfortable in your own skin, don't you! Fantastic. C x

  4. Lee Woody! Great to hear from you here! Yeah that's a great quote isn't it! It speaks buckets to me too. Now I have a perfect excuse to act whatever the hell age I like!! Ha ha! And I agree with you about doing life with your best friend - it is unbelievably precious! So glad you enjoy the blog. Thanks for your encouragement. C x

  5. Yes, medical stuff. This is why seniors have to retire: to have time for all their medical appointments. Cooby.