In a recent article in the New York Times, Richard Sloan talks about personality traits and whether or not they have anything to do with surviving a violent incident, such as the recent Tucson, Arizona shooting, or an illness such as AIDS or cancer. Highly recommended reading.
I found it interesting because, since my diagnosis, people have been telling me things like, "You've got to fight it!" "You're strong!", "You're gonna beat this, I know it!" and "You have to believe you can win the war to win the war!" All of these come from well-intentioned friends and relatives who care for me and don't want to see bad things happen, and I appreciate them, don't get me wrong. But Mr. Sloan has a point. Throughout my lifetime, I've seen lots of people, mostly celebrities of one stripe or another, who have been terminally ill and who, on their last legs claim, "I'm confident that I'm going to beat this!" only to die a short time later. Belief or attitude doesn't always win the fight. Sometimes, the virus or the cancer or the bullet of a disturbed young man can put you in your grave despite your spiritual resiliency, and I'm not sure that it's healthy to deny that. Not that I advocate curling up into the fetal position and waiting for death, certainly not. I'm all for doing everything I can to live as long as I can...but I, and the people who know and love me, need to come to terms with the fact that I might not be around for as long as we anticipated. Bad shit happens to all kinds of people. Sometimes they live and sometimes they don't. And to, in some twisted way, determine that they didn't make it because they weren't strong enough or they didn't want it enough or lacked some sort of character is just wrong.