The simplest of tasks, such as the renewal of a driver’s licence takes on new complexity, after the diagnosis of a life threatening illness, such as cancer. My options were simple. Renew my driver’s licence for 1 or 5 years. I was not required to have a new photo taken, unless I wished. Post diagnosis, your life is measured in expectancy of time increments of 6 months, 12 months, 3 years, 5 years and 10 years. The medical profession has redefined ‘cured’ to mean alive five years after diagnosis, which is not be confused with ‘cancer free’ or ‘healed of your disease’, which is what most of us would expect by the use the of the word, ‘cured’.
Back to the dilemma of the renewal of my driver’s licence. If 1 year is selected, is this a resignation of faith, that I will not be alive to sit behind the wheel in 12 months? If I choose 5, is that a prediction of life expectancy without evidence? Of course, we all renew our licences, car registration, insurance, lease agreements without guarantee and some of us, commit to 50 months of interest free credit on the belief that life will continue unabated. This illusion is shattered by a diagnosis like cancer.
Our national security approach seems to come unstuck at the domestic terminal, as the photographic image on the licence can be renewed without update for a period of 10 years. Some people are graced with being photogenic, while others have mugshots that rival Underbelly characters, emblazoned on their passport and licence. I am somewhere in between, however my identity has been challenged of late with the diagnosis of cancer and the subsequent removal of the tumours. I became a cancer patient, then a cancer survivor.Though new to the breast cancer survivors club, where 5 years marks the first survival point, with the type of cancer that I had, 3 years is the marker of likelihood of reoccurrence, then statistics mirror that of women with oestrogen-sensitive breast cancer. The statistics you learn are manipulated to include treatable cancers and to include those people that die outside of the 5 year period as cured, regardless of the fact that they have passed over.
The image on my current licence is 5 years old and renewing for another 5 years, at $59.00 is the cheapest anti-ageing strategy that I have found. I have however changed irrevocably since diagnosis, and my first surgical intervention. I will be further altered after the upcoming bi-lateral mastectomy. What should it matter? It is only a headshot on my driver’s licence after all.
I have additional definitions for A.D. and B.C. They now mean after diagnosis and before cancer. It is impossible for me to face my own mortality and return to a life in a pre-awakened state. I was not sure that I wanted an image of the ‘past’ me. Perhaps an image B.C will remind me to be ever vigilant of the slippery path of complacency.