I always thought I had my life figured out. I’m a planner by nature, you see. Everything has to be planned out and catered for. How I spend my morning. What do I do on a vacation. What time do I head to the gym. When do I get married and have my 2.1 children. When is the year I make enough money to retire.
You might have guessed, I plan out EVERYTHING. Deep down, it gives me a sense of control. Nothing springs up out of the blue, and I take care of life’s contingencies, come what may.
Then I decided to take the test.
Something routine, something normal. Mostly.
You know those health screening tests that some clinics administer? It was years since I took one of those. Back in 2009 if I recall correctly. They test your blood, blood pressure, key organ profiles, and even your urine.
It was my ex girlfriend that goaded me to do it, back in 2009. Its important to do it every 2 to 3 years, she exhorted. Of course I complied (heh) and went along with it. Without her in the picture, it was has been nearly 7 years since that last test.
I chanced upon the clinic during a morning jaunt for breakfast. Fine, since I the last test was years ago. I’ll probably be fine. I was a runner back in my day, and once boasted a resting heart rate of an athlete (at least that’s what the heart rate monitor salesman told me. I didn’t buy his machine though).
So I handed them my urine sample, had my blood pressure taken, my ECG measured and waited.
The clinic assistant told me that the result would come quickly. 3 business days. One week at most. Cool, I thought. Get it over and done with before I travel to Ireland to take in the sights.
A week passed, then two. I was getting a little unsettled. This is probably taking a bit too long. Did they have to run additional checks? Conduct some checks twice just to make sure? I wasn’t quite panicking, but the idea of something bad, like a sense of foreboding, did linger. Like a bad smell in the air you could detect, but couldn’t quite see.
So I called the clinic, and they told me I could come down for the results. Strange tone over the phone, I thought. Did they reserve that only for bad news?
I chose a morning to head down. Less people, less waiting. As I sat down on the chair and waited for the report, I could have swore the young Malay doc giving me a funny look.
Oh shit. What the hell did that look mean?
Ever taken a roller coaster ride? It felt like I was in one for the whole duration. The scary part of a ride usually isn’t the precipitous dip. Those I can handle well. It’s the bloody anticipation that kills. This doc was a goddamn killer, no kidding.
He began by examining the Lipid Profile. Cholesterol lah, mainly. Never was a problem with me, and never felt it would be a problem. Heck, I used to run close to 50km a week, what is a little bit of cholesterol?
Everything came out ok. On to the next section, and the next.
Liver profile. Alright, no red lights here.
Diabetic Mellitus Profile. Fine, I’m not diabetic. Yay.
Bone and Joint Profile. Great, I have 9.3 mg/dl of calcium in my bones. I’ll try and remember that. Could we speed this up a little?
Venereal Disease Profile. VDRL – Negative. Duh.
Then came the one test that meant the most to me.
Tumour Markers Profile
I don’t know how long exactly did the doc take to reach this stage, but as his hands turned to the page it felt like I was on the chair for hours already.
In case you didn’t already know, I am scared shitless about cancer. FYI – if you think its some kind of rare disease, you got to learn how to be more paranoid. It kills 8 out of 10 people who die every year. And that figure is rising. Yeah, no shit. You can’t even hope to pass away peacefully anymore. 80% chance of dying due to cancer.
Is this rational? Do I have a family history of cancer? Did I ever have a close friend afflicted with it? No to all the above. A chap in his early thirties, with a clean bill of health (albeit 8 years ago), actually scared of cancer?
You may laugh at me, but I would pay good money to see you sweat when you are about to receive your cancer markers profile test.
2 weeks earlier, as another doctor was drawing my blood for the test, he explained that the cancer marker results were notoriously on the high side. I guess a kind of false positive. Maybe it was his way of reassuring me that its alright if I got high marks on the markers test. (pun intended)
Brought back to the present, Doc Zainal went on.
“…nothing on Tumour Markers…”
Screw the remainder of the Report!
I literally couldn’t be bothered with the rest of the report. Thryroid function be damned. I am cancer free!
He noticed my palpable relief and asked why I felt that way about cancer. Truth be told, it was the real reason I took the test. All I really wanted to know was: Do I have cancer?
Was there any family history? Nada, zilch. So why was I so concerned?
Cancer was the one thing that could derail my plan. My Grand plans for life. Retire young. Enjoy the world and all it has to offer.
Right up to the point before he gave me the all clear, all I could think about was: Am I able to pick up the pieces if I had cancer? Is my coverage of 300k enough? Should I have bought more when I could? Why didn’t I do just that? Just how stupid am I?
Walking out of the clinic, gravity seems to work a little less well on me. I was all clear, and I can enjoy my Ireland trip in peace.
Yet it set me thinking. What was i concerned about before the test? Worrying about my business, worrying about how to get more clients, and thinking about how much of the year had gone by and how little progress I made.
This report literally changed my life. (Outlook of, that is) Its a stark reminder that I can’t take my health for granted, and neither should anyone. The unexpected cannot be planned for, and all we can do is prepare for it as best we can.
And also, stop sweating the small things. Like which condo to buy. Will my kid get into a good school? Will COE prices drop enough so I can pick up the next BMW M5? Is my friend earning more than me?
What I was stressing about before the report became laughably unimportant. Would my application launch succeed? What would I do if it failed? Can I even keep up with my peers in terms of earnings if my businesses don’t do well? Some of my friends already have successful businesses and are earning big bucks – when is my turn to be featured in the news, if ever?
Not so important to me now, I guess.
If I could summarize my learnings into 3 points and broadcast it to the world, it would be:
- The unexpected can happen at any time, even if it doesn’t (for now). Act accordingly.
- There is more to life than the material stuff. Don’t ever learn this the hard way.
- Think you have enough coverage? Just take a cancer marker test. You will have a strong urge to triple your CI cover before getting the results.
Here’s me signing off and reminding you to live life while you can, and do your best to prepare for the worst!
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