Yes, Diana… the sad answer is: they do.
I received an email from a colleague today. She had taken a voice mail from a middle school girl asking if dogs can be diagnosed with prostate cancer. I was sure they do. Cats and other animals get it. But, to be absolutely sure, I doubled checked my data banks using a quick Google search. Sure enough, the screen populated with numerous links to information about dogs and prostate cancer.
What I didn’t know is that cancer is the leading cause of death in canines over the age of two.
But that isn’t what gave me pause. What made me stop and think was the reminder that all animals, human or otherwise, are living organisms. We live in complex biological systems that can go awry for any number of reasons. This small reminder of what I already embrace, was surprisingly comforting. But we humans, because of our ability to think and reason in advanced ways, sometimes tend to let cancer take over our lives in paralyzing ways.
We build expectations that don’t always take biological realities into account. We become tied to futures we envision and often shut out the possibility of unexpected disruptions, no matter what physical speed bump or detour might present itself.
I am not suggesting that we give up on living life with dreams and expectations. I guess I’ve just come to realize the life might be easier in some ways if we sometimes remind ourselves that our bodies and nature might not always be able to keep pace with the demands we set for ourselves.
This thought underscores what I have heard many survivors say: we need to live in the moment.